Proust Nature Questionnaire – Mark Tercek


MARK TERCEK is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the global conservation organization known for its intense focus on collaboration and getting things done for the benefit of people and nature. He is the author of the Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book Nature’s Fortune:  How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

A former managing director and Partner for Goldman Sachs, where he spent 24 years, Mark brings deep business experience to his role leading the Conservancy. He is a champion of the idea of natural capital — valuing nature for its own sake as well as for the services it provides for people, such as clean air and water, productive soils and a stable climate.

In 2012, Mark was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on the New York State 2100 Commission, which was created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to advise the governor and the state on how to make the state’s infrastructure more resilient to future storms. In 2016, Mark was appointed by President Barack Obama to the president’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Mark is also a member of several boards and councils, including Resources for the Future, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, and SNAPPTNC’s science joint venture with UC Santa Barbara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Drawing on his professional background in the financial sector, Mark is leading TNC’s impact capital initiative and serves as board chair of NatureVest.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring. Spiritual. Valuable

3 things Nature taught you? 

Interconnectedness. Shortcuts don’t work. We’re all (all species) in this together.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Very difficult – I lead The Nature Conservancy, so it is like asking me who is my favorite child. So I will answer: Mountains, Jungles & Oceans.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

At peace

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Happy

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Respectful

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm, happy

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Like rain is coming.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like I’m outside

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

All of the above

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Early in my TNC days and for various reasons, I was feeling stressed about my new job. I had to go to the Great Bear Rain Forest in British Columbia. My anxiety and stress vanished as soon as I arrived and took in the majesty, beauty and glory of the area. I also realized that I had myself a very good job!

Photograph by Emiliano Granado

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Claudia Robaina

Throughout her career, CLAUDIA ROBAINA’s personal mission has been to nurture creative individuals to reach their full potential. Born in Venezuela, and trained as a violist, she has dedicated a decade to classical music management while at Columbia Artists Management and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At both organizations, she managed and empowered the careers of hundreds of conductors, instrumentalists, and composers. Claudia’s reputation as a thoughtful leader, effective producer, and personable manager has led her to cultivate strong working relationships with Yo-Yo Ma, André Previn, Yefim Bronfman, Colin Currie, and John Williams, among other professional collaborators including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Silk Road Ensemble, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

To broaden her exposure to creative professionals in the fields of science and technology, Claudia joined the MIT Media Lab in 2015 to manage the Director’s Fellows Program, an initiative aimed at connecting thought leaders and creative catalysts from around the globe with the Media Lab’s antidisciplinary vision, encouraging the Fellows to become agents of change and international ambassadors for the Media Lab.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Grand. Life. Powerful

3 things Nature taught you? 

Humility. Beauty. Resilience

3 most treasured Nature spots 

Seating in front of the ocean, on top a mountain, or next to a waterfall.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Human, fluid, calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Surrounded, protected by wise giants

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Energized, amazed, powerless

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Inspired, grateful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Impermanent, small

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Curious

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Swimming in a school of fish while visiting the Los Roques archipelago off the coast of Venezuela. It was our chosen vacation spot during my entire childhood.

FEEL THE WILD

FEEL THE WILD is the title of my book and my 3rd official campaign/theme. It is an intimate and powerful story about Nature and our relationship with it, told through stunning photography, captivating film making, and inspiring and thought provoking writing.

To feel is to connect, to experience. It is to perceive and become aware. Our bodies are created with an immense desire to experience the world around us. We are one giant ecosystem of senses living in a universe based on reciprocity. We experience personally and socially, internally and outerly, consciously and unconsciously, willingly and unwillingly.

To “Feel the Wild” is to connect with the wilderness – the untamed Nature, the untamed Us, the essence of Life, through all of our senses and experience everything it has to offer – the physical, the emotional, the philosophical, and the spiritual.

FEEL THE WILD is ultimately about learning who we are and our place on this planet, in the Universe. It is a journey of growth told through the lenses of humility, vulnerability, and perspective.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Mario Cyr


MARIO CYR is an internationally renowned expedition leader for Arctic and Antarctic missions. He is a cold-water diving expert and a world-class cinematographer. Cyr has participated in more than 150 films for broadcasters such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, the BBC, IMAX 3D, Disney Productions, CBC and David Suzuki, la Société Cousteau, France 2, Arte and NHK Japan. In 2011, he won the Palme d’Or at the Festival d’Antibes for Walrus:Toothed Titans. His contribution to Oceans, directed by Jacques Perrin, helped the film win a César for Best Documentary. In 2013, his Ice Bear 3D got an Emmy nomination.

Originally from the Magdalen Islands, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mario has become one of the very few specialists of cold water diving, capturing spectacular and unique scenes from marine life in the Arctic and Antarctic poles. In 1991, he pioneered filming wild walrus packs and polar bears at a very close range. His expertise and knowledge has enabled him to film authentic and never-before-seen underwater images of swimming polar bears and a female walrus nursing her young.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Imposing. Splendid. Fragile

3 things Nature taught you? 

Patience. Listening. Time arranges many things

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

The beach Old Harry Magdalen Island

Queen Charlotte Island

Tuvalu Island, South Pacific

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

I feel infinitely small.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

I keep repeating myself that all trees are alive.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

That we are tiny in front of such a power.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

That I am lucky to see such beauty.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

For some reason, I always think of past empires and the fear they instilled through their powerful conquests.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

I return to my childhood when I hid under the patio afraid of the high winds.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory 

My summer on a splendid beach Bluff on the Magdalen Island.

STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN

Moving forward, my work will be divided in 3 main themes/campaigns.

Yesterday, I wrote about RANDOM CONNECTEDNESS, a social project which focuses on illustrating how we are all connected, in ways that go beyond social media.

FEEL THE WILD is about my work as a wilderness explorer, photographer and writer – I will write more about this in another post.

The third campaign, STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN is related to my mission to help and inspire people in their life’s journey. It is the platform on which my public speaking and coaching are built on. The campaign is about creating a space for introspection, where people can find the answers they are looking for. It is about honoring and welcoming our path, finding peace with our journey on this planet and celebrating who we are as human.

To explain more about it, let me share with you an excerpt from my Adventure Travel Trade Association 2017 Summit Keynote:

… As an artist, Wilderness is my studio, my inspiration. It is where I go to create – to photograph and write. But most importantly, I go there to meet with my mentor and teacher, Nature. My creative process is simple, by welcoming solitude, I open myself and am able to listen and receive the treasures it has to offer.

All this time alone in the wilderness, has led me to experience many epiphanies, moments where I felt that the veil of mystery on some of Life’s most precious secrets had disappeared. I have realized along the way that there was a certain pattern for those revelations to appear, a certain formula that seemed to work as a calling card for these insights to sneak up into my mind and reward me with a “eureka” moment. This pattern that I have observed has translated itself into one of my most powerful mantras – STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN. 

These 4 words have transformed me and changed the way I experience life. They have helped me manage my way out of challenging and struggling situations. They have given me a way to connect with life, with the world, and with others. By following them, I have come to understand who I am and who we are, individually and collectively  

STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN is about creating boundaries, so that you get a new perspective, which will bring you clarity and in the process allow you to receive the help life is sending your way. STOP and create your boundaries. BREATHE and get a new perspective. RELAX and welcome clarity. LISTEN, not with your ears but with your heart and mind so that you can open yourself to the signs Life is giving you, the guidance it is showing you.

Let me give you a way to visualize the mantra

Imagine that you are like a glass jar filled with water, sand, and floating candy (floating candy don’t really exist but the concept works for this exercise), all contained with the lid tightly on. Now that jar represents you, your own self. The water is the world around you. The sand is your thoughts, you worries, everything that populates your minds. And the candy, they are the insights, the rewards, ideas, those eureka moments. From the second you wake up, and until the very last moment when you fall asleep, you are constantly and frantically shaking that jar. Making a big mess of what’s inside. The water is blurry. The sand is all over. And the candy, well, good luck! They are like shooting stars, tiny dots of color that disappear the second you see them. If you want to see, pick and eat the candy much like if you want to find, receive and apply those insights that help you process your life’s journey, what you need to do is take that jar. Put it on a table, don’t touch it. Let the water stop spinning. Wait for the sand to rest and settle. Then and only then, you will clearly see the candy float up, calm at the surface, ready for you open the lid and pick them up. 

Experiencing the world through the lenses of humility, reciprocity, and vulnerability opens the path to so many treasures and priceless discoveries. Transforming our struggles and pain into growth not only brings us happiness and peace, but it also make us celebrate what it is to be human. Life is not easy. Life is not fair. It is not meant to be fair. It is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be lived, to be experienced, to learn and grow from it. 

And what is there to learn today, in 2017? Well, there is no need to shame the human race with guilt, constantly pointing the finger at ourselves on how bad of a species we are and have been. How could we do the things we have done in the past. Simple, we have done them because in that moment we thought it was best. Some of them were good and some turned out to be real bad. And that is ok. We learn through feeling the consequences of our actions. And now we are feeling them. But remember, change is hard. Nobody wants change. The reason why we are 7 billions on the planet is not because we are a bad species, but because we are extremely good at learning from our mistakes, we rise in face of challenges, we shine and figure our way out when the shit hits the fan. This is who we are, this is what we do.

STOP and lets create our boundaries. BREATHE so that we can get a new perspective. RELAX and lets welcome clarity. LISTEN, not with our ears but with our hearts and minds so that together, united, we can become better humans, protecting and caring for this world, leading towards a bright and inspiring future.”

Random Connectedness

RANDOM CONNECTEDNESS is an on-going photography project through which I illustrate the random connectivity of the human species.

I ask a person to choose a character of the alphabet with which they want to be photographed. With all the photos of people and letters, I combine the portraits and make words, sentences, paragraphs.

My goal is to have thousands of portraits/letters and present them in a “MANIFESTO OF HUMANITY” exhibit, all displayed on a HUGE mural.

I will also use my project to put a human face(s) on social issues and cultural realities our world is currently dealing with. More information on this will soon be revealed.

The letters are RED, because of the Chinese legend of the Red Thread of Fate. According to Chinese mythology, the Gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way.

In time, an Instagram account will feature daily portraits and “Word” campaigns. You can take the lead and follow the Instagram site by clicking here.

Recently, the project was used to feature the residents of Juneau and why they have chosen to live there. Read story THE SPIRIT OF JUNEAU here.

An embossed silicone wrist bracelets – #IAMCONNECTED will be given to each participant, solidifying the community, loyalty, participation and reach.

Here are some examples from RANDOM CONNECTEDNESS.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Max Stossel


MAX STOSSEL is an award winning poet + filmmaker, and one of the leaders of Time Well Spent, a movement to align technology with our humanity. His work has spanned across 14 languages,  has won two Webby Awards, multiple film festivals, consistently goes viral, and influenced the way digital media organizations tell the stories of mass murder in the news.

Before entering the worlds of poetry, film & digital activism, Max was a media strategist with an extensive background in social. He ran social for Budweiser, where he drove a 3,400% increase in average engagement, before being trained by Gary Vaynerchuk and creating social strategies for Dove and several Fortune 100 brands. He has written on the subject for Quartz and The Huffington Post.

The merging of these fields allows Max to provide a fascinating perspective on modern content and culture. He is currently helping select brands tell their stories in his style via video, speaking at schools, corporations, & events and helping content-focused brands stop wasting their money and start focusing their content resources effectively.

3 words to describe Nature?

Beautiful, Peaceful, Evolution

3 things Nature taught you?

Balance, Adaptation, that everything has it’s opposite

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Kauai, Inca Trail, San Blas Islands

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Breath-y

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Awe

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Small

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Alive

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Warm

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

5

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

When I was at summer camp as a kid a skunk got caught in the baseball batting cage net. My friend and I went to try and free it and SURPRISE! It sprayed us. We had to bathe in tomato juice and every room I went in before that smelled for the rest of the summer.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Christine Mason

CHRISTINE MASON is the author of Indivisible, Love in the Face of Everything, & her upcoming Bending the Bow. She’s the cofounder of New Earth, a farm-based retreat center for Integral Activism on Hawai’i. She convenes, hosts and facilitates conferences, salons and events at the intersection of science and tech, spirituality, human optimization, society and institutions. She serves as Editor in Chief of Enter Magazine, sits on the board of GRIP, and is chairman of Now Labs, Inc. She’s a mom, grandmother, and a long time practitioner and teacher of yoga, meditation and tantra. Follow her at xtinem.com, or on Amazon.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Creative. Destructive. True.

3 things Nature taught you? 

All things are interconnected.

We are always provided for.

How elegantly things adapt.

The resonance of beauty

That an ecosystem in balance sounds a harmonic chord, out of balance there is dissonance – as in all systems.

Humility

Awe

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

The golden sunrise rocks in the high desert at Joshua Tree, Southern California.

The long slung white sand beach at Stinson, in Northern California.

The round stone beach at Washington Harbor, on Washington Island in Lake Michigan, surrounded by White Birch forest.

The ice caves above Aspen, Colorado.

The giant rolling dunes in southern Morocco.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?  

Surrendered. Integrated. Rebalanced.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Peaceful. Quiet. Curious.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Alive. Creative. Urgent.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Grateful. Potentiated. Connected to all beings.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Like a child in the summer rains.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Lonely

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

I’m a planet earth person.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

11

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Cresting a ridge at sunrise on snowshoes, my father next to me, deep fresh snow; the morning light catching the crystalline crust just so, a thousand rainbow prisms refracting in every direction, against a crisp cold bright blue sky; cheeks red, legs strong, eyes wide open; a suspended indelible moment of pure beauty.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Brooke Garnett

BROOKE GARNETT is the founder of MAYAMAYA, which specializes in tailoring seamless, premium journeys around the world. MAYAMAYA is a small boutique company and they work intimately with a select group of loyal and discerning clients. With expansive destination knowledge covering over 50 countries and some of the most remote parts of the globe, Brooke has been recognized as a world leader in the travel industry and recently celebrated her fifth consecutive year on Travel + Leisure’s A-List. While Brooke’s travel adventures would take pages to relate, some of her more recent memorable experiences include learning to fish with an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley, a private weeklong helicopter tour of the Scottish Highlands, trekking with the Gorillas in Rwanda, and exploring the secret treasures of Jordan and Egypt. Brooke loves to cook, paint, and any sort of outdoor adventure. She has worked as a divemaster in Thailand and Honduras and is an accomplished photographer. Many of you have likely seen her GoPro video of an orphaned pelican flying over Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania which has gone viral with almost 6 million views on YouTube.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Powerful, fragile, harmony

3 things Nature taught you? 

Resilience, respect, true beauty

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Great Bear Rainforest, Canada

Hartmann’s Valley, Namib Desert, Namibia

Tasmanian Coast, Australia

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Tiny

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Clean

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Nervous

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Excited

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

30% desert, 25% Mountain, 25% Ocean, 20% Forest

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My grandfather had a large piece of land in the middle of nowhere in Western Pennsylvania. As a child, I went here for every school holiday and it was the best – playing outside all day catching frogs with no structures in sight. There were some buffalo on the property and one day we found a baby buffalo that was left in a ditch. We rescued the buffalo and bottle fed it back to health.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – John Montalbano

JOHN MONTALBANO recently served as  Vice Chairman of RBC Wealth Management and Head of  RBC Global Asset Management during the period of 2008 to 2016. RBC Global Asset Management ranked among the largest 50 asset managers in the world, with more than $375 billion is assets under management. John is a Trustee of the Killam Trusts, and is a director on many community boards, including the foundations of St. Paul’s Hospital, The Vancouver Police, Take a Hike Youth at Risk, Junior Achievement of BC and also chairs the capital campaign for The Vancouver Public Library. Recently appointed to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Asia Pacific Foundation, John holds a finance degree from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

3 words to describe Nature?

Miraculous

Precious

Vulnerable

3 things Nature taught you? 

1. Whenever I am in nature, it always re-educates me that there is so much more to life than my urban reality.

2. Nature has taught me to be respectful of it, to relish in it and to rediscover myself with it.

3. Nature has taught me that it rarely lies. If it looks distressed, then it is likely distressed.

3 most treasured spots? 

1. Haida Gwaii

2. A savanna in Botswana

3. The tidal pools off Sonora Island

When I look at the ocean, it makes me feel…?

Whole

When I see a forest it makes me feel…?

The need to get into the trees.

When I see a volcano, it makes me feel…?

Wondrous of what lurks within it.

When I see a sunrise, it makes me feel…?

Renewed; when I see a sunset, it makes me feel… that I have lived to have seen another day in my children’s lives.

When I hear thunder, it makes me feel…?

Unsettled

When I hear the wind howling, it makes me feel…?

Concerned for those who do not have shelter.

Am I an Ocean, Mountain, Forest or Desert person?…?

Vancouver is deep within me, therefore, I am an Ocean, Mountain and Forest person. One is not complete without the others.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

9- being near an ocean, mountain or forest is important for me to feel grounded.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Growing up in a working class family did not afford us an opportunity to see the world very often. The anticipation of my first overseas vacation had me all excited about the destination, only to find that it was the journey that I remember most. Flying through the clouds, for the first time, at a window seat, left me in awe and feeling like I was flying along side the angels…ok, in truth, I thought I was on a magic carpet, flying above earth and into space; but being raised Catholic, I quickly found myself becoming consumed with guilt because of my indulgent thoughts and, therefore, traded the carpet in for wings. Until that trip, I could never have imagined how beautiful clouds were, or how big, how broad and how bumpy. I have flown over 3 million miles and every take off would bring me back to that magic carpet ride.

 

Proust Nature Questionnaire – David Labistour

DAVID LABISTOUR is the Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s leading outdoor retailer.

With a professional experience spanning over 30 years working with companies such as Adidas, Woolworths, one of South Africa’s most successful retailers, and Aritzia – David’s diversified international experience has covered Design and Product Development in apparel, gear and food, retail product management, Brand management and complex Strategic planning and execution. His Management and Leadership experience has developed in Private, Public, Co-op and military environments.

David is MEC’s first CEO to have been appointed from within the 46-year-old organization. In his former capacity as the Senior Manager of Buying and Design, David was part of the Executive team that transformed the MEC Brand and shaped MEC’s award winning recognition as Canada’s Best and Most Trusted Brand whilst equally encompassing sustainability initiatives operation wide.

Outside of MEC he sits on the Board of Aritzia, the BCBC Board of Governors and serves as an Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy.

David lives in Deep Cove with his wife Lianne, sons Liam and Felix and indulges in a “jack of all trades, master of none” approach to a range of activities including such things as skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, kite surfing.

3 words to describe Nature?

Nature is a part of us and we are a part of nature

3 things Nature taught you?

Consider the bigger system of things. Nothing is simple or linear

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Too many to pick one. The world is full of wonder. From your front door to the wildest and remotest of places

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Like riding a wave

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like climbing a tree

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I have never seen a live volcano up close

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Sunrise = new possibilities. A beautiful sunset on a warm evening = tranquility/ relaxation

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Depends on what my situation is. In the wild = batten the hatches. At home = energy

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Depends on my situation. On the beach = time to kite.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean first, then mountain.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

See question 1

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I grew up on a farm in the foothills of the mountains, went to school on a nature reserve and holidayed on the ocean. That was my childhood.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Casey Hanisko

From starting her travel career at a space voyage division of well respective Zegrahm Expeditions to launching new events and business solutions at ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association), CASEY HANISKO has spent over 20 years taking bold steps and pushing the boundaries of comfortable. Over the years she has marketed countless new innovative travel itineraries from deep sea submersible trips to in depth expeditions to countries such as Brazil, Japan, and Namibia. A creative and results driven executive, Casey’s roles have included business strategy and development, marketing, communications, and innovative product development.

As president of the business services and events division of the ATTA, Casey manages the strategic direction and dynamic team delivering an ecosystem of events and business solutions for destinations and adventure travel brands around the world. Former head of the ATTA’s marketing and communications efforts, Casey was responsible for communicating the place global adventure travel has in the context of the greater tourism industry. As president, Casey will lead the success of long term partnerships that are built to advance destinations’ efforts to support economic- and community-based initiatives. A speaker at industry events around the globe, Casey shares her expertise on adventure travel trends, branding, and travel’s evolving role in the future of communities, culture, environment, and wildlife around the world.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Unexpected, Beautiful, and Necessary

3 things Nature taught you? 

To be introspective, respectful, and wild

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

My most treasured nature spots are close by because access to nature daily makes me a happier person – so first is a park just down the street in Seattle because I go there daily for walks with my dog, second is the Cascade Mountains in Washington, and third is the Puget Sound because there are small pocket beaches that can be accessed across the city and then also South and North. For years I would scuba dive those waters looking for octopus, ling cod and nudibranchs.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Honored

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Peaceful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Excited

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Alert

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I lived in rural New Hampshire when I was young. I used to explore the woods in the back of our house for hours on my own. There were trees back there with vines and I loved to find them and swing on them. It always felt like a treasure because I never remembered where they were. I felt like a female Tarzan swinging in the wild jungle.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Megan Harrison

MEGAN HARRISON is an artist who works in a variety of media and exhibits her work nationally. Most recently she was included in the exhibition Geomagic at NMSU, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her artwork depends on images and insights from geology, architecture, astronomy and Nature. She explores the complexity of the world around her wherever she is. Watch the video, the Complexity of Scale, made by Walley Films.

3 words to describe Nature?

Compounding complexity

Transformative

Penetrating

3 things Nature taught you?

You don’t have to be lucky enough to travel to exotic places to interact with Nature. Nature is a constant and creative force that pushes itself into every aspect of our world, from the remote and distant wilderness to cracks in the sidewalk.

No matter how big, the drama and story of our individual life pales in comparison to the scale, history and complexity of the world that we belong to.

We are shaped, physically and psychology, by natural forces. Our neurological landscape mirrors that of our physical one, complete with domesticated centers, rural outposts and untouched wilderness.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where I grew up.

The North-East coast of the United Stated and into Canada. Instead of sandy beaches you will find huge slabs of ancient granite facing off against a dynamic and pristine ocean.

The wilderness of northern Minnesota (minus the mosquitos). Through all of the water channels and tiny islands you can go and go and go until it feels like you are a million miles away.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Salt water, sun kissed, wind-blown – when I look at the ocean I can sense for a brief moment the scale of the planet we live on.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I feel like I could spend all day there, listening to the sound of my steps, watching the light through the trees, finding a spot have a snack. I am so at home there.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

When I see a volcano, it feels like all of my Earth Science textbooks have come to life. I can imagine the Earth’s crust, the lithosphere, the mantle and all of the tectonic plates bobbing around.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Seeing the sunset is an experience that usually comes to you. You are moving through your day and look up, and there it is.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

After a flash of lightning, the feeling of anticipation, waiting for that thunder to follow, is so satisfying.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Cozy and happy to have a good roof over my head.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Today I feel like a Forest person.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

A 10. In fact, just thinking about nature has positive effects; the idea of wilderness shapes such a large part of the human psyche.

Share with us a childhood nature memory

My dad took me on a short camping trip when I was 7 or 8. It was the first time I experienced hiking into a natural space with a pack as opposed to camping next to a car. It felt like we walked for a very long time, though it was probably less than a mile. It was just far enough to feel really surrounded by the landscape. I remember green everywhere, cold mornings, and the smell of the tent. I was amazed watching my dad; he knew all sorts of tricks – how to set up a tent, start a fire, hook a fishing line, cook outside, brush your teeth and clean dishes without running water. I would love to go find that spot again. I am curious to see how my memory has interpreted that space.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Christiana Moss

CHRISTIANA MOSS is managing principal and a founding partner of Studio Ma, the current AIA Arizona Firm of the Year and a recent Architectural Record Design Vanguard Firm. Her interests in advanced environmental design and the relationship between natural and cultural systems inform her design philosophy. She is one of five Studio Ma principals and practices collaboratively with Christopher Alt, Dan Hoffman, Jason Boyer and Tim Keil. The hallmark of studio is a commitment to sustainability and research, seen most recently in Princeton University’s net-zero ready 715-bed Lakeside Graduate Student Community.

As part of the firm’s mission of advancing the practice of sustainable design, Studio Ma has recently developed a “triple net-zero” concept for higher education research buildings and practices using an integrated design process, for its campus, cultural and urban infill projects. Their work on university campuses focuses on student residential life, academic and research projects. Other notable recent projects include Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, a Smithsonian affiliate, Arizona State University’s Manzanita Hall, Northern Arizona University’s Native American Cultural Center, the Cranbrook Institute of Science addition, master planning and cabin prototypes for Summit Powder Mountain, PRD845 and artHAUS, an urban infill development. Studio Ma has received significant recognition for their work, including AIA Arizona Honor awards, the Chicago Athenaeum and SCUP/AIA National Honor for Building Design. Their buildings have been featured in Metropolis, Architectural Record and The New York Times.

Christiana received her Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Essential

Integral

Threatened

3 things Nature taught you? 

Humility

Awe

Self-reflection

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Fire Island

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

My back yard

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

When I’m looking out to the ocean I feel small and infinite at the same time.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

When I’m in a forest I feel sheltered, embraced and connected to the earth.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I haven’t seen a volcano yet.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Thankful for its rising and anxious for its return when it sets.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Hearing thunder makes me want to seek shelter.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

I enjoy feeling the wind on my face and prefer to be in it instead of hearing it from the indoors.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

This is a difficult question. I love them all and they are all connected, perhaps some at different times. I began as an ocean person. The desert was once an ocean and I now enjoy the expanse of sky of both, the silhouette of mountains and the unique life water’s absence creates in the desert. The forest is a place I go to be immersed in the smells and sounds of the earth and I long for this too, perhaps I will become a forest person.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

1 (being most important)

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I lived as a child on Fire Island without cars, free to run and swim in the ocean, walking in sand barefoot all summer long, picking blueberries and chasing rabbits. I lost this when I moved to New York when I was 12 and I’ve been longing to return to life without a city ever since.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ardy Sobhani

ARDY SOBHANI is an entrepreneur and business strategist, energized by ideation, iteration, and systems design. After earning an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts in 2012, Ardy helped launched Oru Kayak via Kickstarter with his two co-founders. The response to the project was incredible, with over 700 backers supporting the folding kayak company. In three years since, Oru Kayak has grown quickly, from a weekend hobby to young and scrappy startup to international brand. all under the guidance of Sobhani, Oru Kayak‘s CEO.

Today the company markets and sells through a wide variety of channels, has a robust and efficient manufacturing and fulfillment process in Southern California, and has developed key partnerships with , and many other major distributors. Looking forward, the company–which has doubled in growth each year since its founding–is poised for rapid expansion, riding a wave of good fortune and a dedication to the aggressive strategies put forth by Ardy and the rest of the executive team. Oru Kayak‘s dream of changing the way people experience the outdoors is closer than many believe.

As a leader, Ardy is motivated by a desire to use human-centered design to make the outdoors more accessible for all. He believes that clever, forward-thinking solutions will soon create game-changing products and services in the outdoor industry, and that Oru Kayak is position well to be a catalyst for this change. Ardy uses design thinking frameworks to inspire innovative thinking, merging design and business to create and deliver value to the customer and faster growth for the company.

3 words to describe Nature?

Freedom

Fresh

Recharge

3 things Nature taught you?

Ecosystem – Everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted.

Flow – the easiest path forward. Nature always finds it.

All the answers we are looking for are in nature, but they are hard to find.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The waters that surround the cities. We need to utilize these natural water parks!

The Beautiful North of Iran ” Shomal”

My favourite tree in the neighbourhood

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm and at the same time strong. Always there to take care of you and never let go.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Respect. Our elders with much wisdom

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Never seen a volcano in person but it is very powerful. It’s time for the earth to breathe.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Another day about to start or end 🙂 Future or the Past. Both are very powerful.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Love it! Louder, please!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Something is about to go down! We need to listen closely to what the wind is telling us.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I grow up in Tehran, Iran mountains city but lived in California for the most of my life. I love the desert for it vastness and its honesty. I love the ocean as it takes care of us. Mountains for their powerful stand and they are fun to play in. Forest for the oxygen the make. How about mountain forest next to ocean or lake.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10. I need more of it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Camping in the forest of Iran. I LOVED it!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Brian MacKay-Lyons

BRIAN MACKAY-LYONS received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Technical University of Nova Scotia in 1978 where he was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Medal. He received his Master of Architecture and Urban Design at U.C.L.A., and was awarded the Dean’s Award for Design. In 1985, he founded the firm Brian MacKay-Lyons Architecture Urban Design in Halifax. Twenty years later, Brian partnered with Talbot Sweetapple to form MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited.

The firm has built an international reputation for design excellence confirmed by over 125+ awards, including the Royal Institute of British Architects International Fellowship in 2016, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal in 2015 and Firm Award in 2014, six Governor General Medals, two American Institute of Architects National Honor Awards for Architecture, thirteen Lieutenant Governor’s Medals of Excellence, eight Canadian Architect Awards, four Architectural Record Houses Awards, eight North American Wood Design Awards and in 2017 the firm received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. Also in 2017, the firm has been shortlisted for the prestigious Moriyama Award (result pending). A fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (FRAIC), and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA), Brian was named Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (Hon FAIA) in 2001 and International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Int. FRIBA) in 2016.

He is a Professor of Architecture at Dalhousie University where he has taught for over thirty years and has held seventeen endowed academic chairs and given 200+ lectures internationally. In 2004 he was visiting professor for the Ruth and Norman Moore Professorship at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ghost (1994-2011) was a series of international Architectural Research Laboratories that took place on the MacKay-Lyons farm. Ghost was founded by Brian as a meeting place for an international ‘school’ of architects who shared a commitment to: landscape, making, and community. The final installment of Ghost took the form of a three-day historic gathering where the twenty-five invited guests and speakers commiserated over these shared values and their ‘resistance’ to the globalization of Architecture.

The work of the firm has been recognized in 330+ publications including six monographs: Seven Stories from a Village Architect (1996); Brian MacKay-Lyons: Selected Works 1986-1997 (1998); Plain Modern: The Architecture of Brian MacKay-Lyons by Malcolm Quantrill (2005); Ghost: Building an Architectural Vision (2008); Local Architecture: Building Place, Craft, and Community (2014); and Economy as Ethic: The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, authored by Historian Robert McCarter, published April 2017. In addition to these monographs, the work of the firm has been featured in 100+ exhibitions internationally.

3 words to describe Nature?

As a fellow Canadian, Nature is IMMENSE. But, as a Nova Scotian, all Nature is a mixture of both CULTURAL and natural landscapes. As an architect, Nature is the ultimate design MODEL.

3 things Nature taught you?

NATURE WINS. Any attempt to beat nature loses.

ELEGANCE = economy of means.

RYTHM of the seasons.

We learn our manners at home, then take them out into the world. As a child, I have been imprinted by the landscape where my ancestors have dwelled for thousands of years.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

EDGE, where the land meets the sea.

ACADIE, the local Micmac word for the ecologically rich tidal estuaries around the Bay of Fundy, where I hunted and fished as a youth.

DRUMLIN, a hill that points in the direction of the retreating glaciers in the last ice age.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I feel connected to the INFINITE. (Prospect)

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I am ALONE. (Refuge)

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I see a PORTAL to the center of the earth.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

A sunrise or sunset is a seasonal CLOCK.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thunder, universally inspires TERROR.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

The wind is the weather FORECAST.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Clearly an OCEAN person.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

Nature connection is essential to my/our well-being, or GROUNDING, so it is a 10.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Dip netting spawning gaspereaux at dusk on spring evenings with friends, in the rapids, where the fresh water from the forest drops into the salt tidal estuary water. This is only one of the seasonal RITUALS that marked my PLACE in the world.

I have a dream… Bill of Nature

Nature is more than a destination, more than a “place”. Nature is a mindset and a way of looking at the world. It is a teacher and a mentor. It is a set of values and principles on which one chooses to live accordingly, a framework for personal transformation. Nature is about reciprocity, balance and humility. It is a world of wonders, discoveries and wisdom.

Nature is Life – Life is Nature.

If a Genie gave me one wish, my wish would be for our society to change its relationship with Nature and view it in the same way we see Freedom and Democracy. As a value that needs to be honored and respected. Instead of seeing Nature as a commodity that needs to be managed.

I would wish for the creation of the BILL OF NATURE, just like we have the BILL OF RIGHTS.

This Bill would set the tone and direction on how citizens of this world want to move forward and into the future. This Bill would NOT be about measuring or quantifying Nature, but about creating a framework for our growth, a set of values that we prioritize culturally, and individually.

The Bill would be simple, clear and composed of keywords:

  • Humbleness NOT Righteousness
  • Better NOT Easier
  • Respect NOT Protect
  • Consciousness NOT Senseless
  • Reciprocity NOT Opportunistically
  • Community NOT Individuality
  • Slower NOT Faster
  • Local NOT Global
  • Accountability NOT Dishonesty
  • Long Term NOT Short Term
  • Forward NOT Backward
  • Optimism NOT Pessimism
  • Dynamic NOT Static
  • Evolution NOT Perfection

That is what my wish you would be.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Jennine Cohen

JENNINE COHEN is a the Managing Director of the Americas for GeoEx. A trusted adventure, luxury and travel expert, Jennine also supports travel conservation efforts. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) and has been featured in Travel & Leisure, Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, YahooTravel, Fortune, Forbes, ABC, CBS, Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Recommend Magazine, SmartMeetings, Travel Alliance Media and beyond.  Besides sending people traveling around the world, Cohen advises, coaches and helps small businesses, women entrepreneurs, healers, and business leaders to uncover their everyday magic.

3 words to describe Nature?

Peace, Pachamama, Purity

3 things Nature taught you?

Like nature, I am a force;

Hitting the reset button in nature = clarity;

No regrets for going bigger

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The South Yuba River, Nevada City,

Wrangell Saint Elias National Park – Alaska,

Dead Horse State Park – Utah

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I want to be out there, in the waves instead of sitting on the shore

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like everything is right in the world

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Mother Earth is amazing

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Like the days are precious – and we should appreciate and have gratitude for each uniquely beautiful day.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

At home

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Intrigued

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain – but love them all deeply

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I didn’t have much exposure to the wilderness as a child, and my first real introduction was in college through UCLA’s Outdoor Leadership Program. My first backpacking trip with UCLA was through Sequoia National Forest – it was how I fell in love with the West.

I was surrounded on that trip by much more experienced peers who had spent their childhoods enjoying frequent family camping trips. I on the other hand, didn’t even know how to set up a tent – let alone use topo maps and a compass. Despite this, as we hiked through the mountains and under some of the largest trees on the planet, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, calm, sense of purpose. Though I was an absolute beginner, but my unbounded excitement for my new found passion over time led to my competence in and eventual addiction to the outdoors. My life was forever changed after that trip, and my career in the adventure travel industry born.

Coincidentally, that same trip happened to fall over 9/11. We had been in the wilderness and seemed to be the last ones on the planet to find out about the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center – emerging from the woods a full week after the tragic event. Not being surrounded by news all week likely shielded us from the high levels of stress and anxiety that the rest of the country was suffering from.

It is a good reminder about the importance of disconnecting from the noise of today’s anxiety inciting media – in order to intuitively return to the abundance of calm and clarity.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Bruce Poon Tip

Entrepreneur, leader and philanthropist BRUCE POON TIP is the founder of adventure travel company and social enterprise G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group adventure travel company, with 23 offices worldwide offering more than 650 tours on all seven continents and serving 150,000 travellers a year.

Bruce is also the founder of the nonprofit foundation Planeterra in 2003, which harnesses the power of the tourism industry to direct travel dollars into vulnerable and underserved communities around the world. His work with organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), like-minded companies and indigenous people has supported more than 40 unique community development and relief projects around the world, with another 50 in development.

In 2012, Bruce was inducted into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame, joining celebrated entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream). He was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, recognizing significant contributions to society, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016, 2006 and 2002.

Bruce’s first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business, a New York Times bestseller, was the first business book to be endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who penned the book’s foreword. In 2015 Bruce released his second book, Do Big Small Things, a gorgeously designed journal about life and travel that takes readers on a journey and invites them to share their own inspiration and creativity.

G Adventures has been named one of the 50 Best Managed Companies for over 10 years and is repeatedly recognized as a “best place to work” in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia.

3 words to describe Nature?

Happiness

Peaceful

Beauty

3 things Nature taught you?

Being humble,

Importance of stillness

Awareness that we’re surrounded by beautiful things

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Serengeti, Galapagos and the Geelong Bird Sanctuary

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Free

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Small

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Curious

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Invincible

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Light

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

All of the above

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Growing up in Calgary I spent a lot of my spare time in ponds after school, knee-deep in mud. I lost track of time catching frogs and observing tadpoles in transition. I was fascinated by natural biology.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Gary Turk

GARY TURK is an award-winning filmmaker and spoken word artist best known for his viral film ‘Look Up’, attracting over 500 million views worldwide. Through poetry and film, Gary explains how overuse of smartphones and social media can disengage us from real relationships, human interactions and living in the real world.

Look Up’ is currently the most viewed Spoken Word film on YouTube, and went on to win Best Viral Film at Cannes. Scroll down to watch his latest video – IN OUR NATURE

Gary’s work, which has explored our relationships with money, politics and nature has gone on to inspire masses across the globe and gained worldwide coverage including BBC News, Fox News and TIME.

Gary has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sunrise (Australia), among many others.

Gary continues to make short independent films, as well as performing live around the world. He can also be found giving talks, workshops & performances at schools, universities, and corporate events.

3 words to describe Nature?

Boundless

Magnificent

Inspiring

3 things Nature taught you?

 To travel

To take my time

To appreciate the little things

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Looking Glass Rock, Appalachian Mountains, NC.

Cuckmere Haven, South Downs National Park, England.

Beneath the Redwoods, Mendocino CA.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Protected

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Inconsequential

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Like everyone and everything is connected

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Like looking for lightning

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like there’s no point standing still

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain person – I love being able to take in my surroundings from up high (especially if I can see Oceans, Forests or Deserts from there).

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

An easy 10 – If I ever don’t feel 100%, I know that being in Nature will always make things better, put things into perspective, and provide the answers I need.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

After a long day of trail hiking with my cub-scout, we went to sleep under the stars in our sleeping bags on the forest floor. What I did not realise as we went to sleep was that I still had a cereal bar in the pocket of my shorts. When I woke up I noticed there were lots of tiny pieces of foil wrapper in my sleeping bag. I climbed out to find that my shorts now had a large hole in them leading to my pocket, which had clearly been chewed, and inside my pocket was the remaining foil wrapper and the crumbs of a cereal bar that I had not eaten.

I became immediately certain that I had been attacked by a bear in my sleep, and that I must have somehow slept through the encounter.

Our group leader then reassured me that considering the size of the hole in my shorts, and the fact my sleeping bag and limbs remained intact, it was most likely a mouse that attacked me during the night.

I often remember this moment in nature as a child, as part of me still likes to believe it could have been a bear.

The Spirit of Juneau

Some places come and go. Some cities spring up only to disappear decades later for one reason or another (think of Bodie, California). History is filled with forgotten colonies and failed urban visions. I am curious though. What factors or variables are necessary to sustain a city and its inhabitants for hundreds of years? For thousands of years? How is a geographical location in the middle of seemingly nowhere able to maintain interest despite its remoteness and existential challenges? It takes more than an abundance of fish to justify settling down. It takes more than strong will and powerful wishes to turn a series of buildings into a lasting and thriving city where souls live and rest. Are there mini gravitational forces that we are unable to see, inexplicable vortexes that attract life and make people stay in the same way such as sweet nectar pulls in thousands of hungry bees?

For several millennia, this location was known to the Tlingit as Dzantik’i Héeni (where the flatfish gather). It sits at the foot Yadaa’at Kale (the beautiful face of the mountain) and is south of Aak’w (little lake). Nearby are Kootznoowoo island (fortress of bear) and Taku river (the flood of the geese).

During the 1791-95 expedition, Captain George Vancouver, along with his crew on the Discovery, were the first recorded Europeans to visit it. A hundred years later in 1880, two prospectors Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, guided by Tlingit Chief Kowee, struck gold at the mouth of Gold Creek. The city was then renamed Juneau.

For thousands of years, people have come from far away and gathered at Dzantik’i Héeni (Juneau). Whether they were drawn by the abundant natural resources, the major fishing and hunting grounds, the promise of gold, perhaps they followed love, were lured by work or simply came to visit, none of those reasons are enough to make one stay and settle. There is something in the land, the waters, and the mountains that draw people in and inspires them to call Juneau home.

I first discovered this Alaskan city in 2013 when visiting with a group of friends. Juneau was our rendezvous point where we boarded the Alaska State Ferry. We kayaked from Sitka to Hoonah, along the Pacific Coast of Chichagof Island and from Hoonah to Tenekee Springs (TV interview and radio interview).  I returned the following year, only this time I kayaked solo from Juneau to Pack Creek and then to the Taku Glacier (radio interview). One of the trip’s highlights was a night paddle on bioluminescent waters, surrounded by orcas and humpback whales. To say it was magical is an understatement.

Ever since that first visit, Juneau has played an integral part in my career and in my personal life. Three of my most popular photos were captured there (see above). Some of my most memorable memories took place on its surrounding waters and deep within its forests. Not only has Juneau become one of my favorite gateways into the wilderness; it is a place where I found a great friend, Ken. Originally from Boston, he moved to Alaska in the 70‘s. Explorer, philanthropist, conservationist and musician, Ken owned Alaska Discovery and founded of Pack Creek Bear Tours.

At the beginning of this year, Juneau resident Captain Tom Kelly from Blue Planet Eco Charter reached out to me with an invitation to join him on a summer sailing cruise. I was now married and the prospect of being able to share with my wife a part of the world that had been so special to me was really exciting. It was the perfect opportunity! While my solo wilderness expeditions are remote and span weeks at a time, this trip had to be slightly different. It needed to be adventurous, but not extreme while encapsulating all the classic highlights that Juneau is known for including the places, the food, the people and activities.

Travel Juneau and I worked together to plan the perfect itinerary: a floatplane to Pack Creek where brown bears can be viewed in their natural habitat, a hike in the Tongas National Forest, a paddle to the Mendenhall Glacier and exploration of the ice cave, whale watching in Auke Bay, a feast of fresh-caught Alaskan King Crab and a weekend excursion to a luxury fishing lodge in Angoon. Our 12-day trip would conclude aboard Captain Tom’s 40’ S/V Seamoore as we sailed around Douglas Island overnighting in Young Bay.

The other goal was to bring my photo project Random Connectedness to Juneau. Through this project I seek to illustrate the random connectivity of the human species. I do this by taking portraits of random people holding a letter of the alphabet. I then combine these portraits into words, phrases or sentences. The letters are red for a reason. According to Chinese mythology, the Gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. It is called the legend of the Red String of Fate. The red letters represent the string.

In addition to photographing the natural beauty of Juneau, I would turn the camera on its people. How best to celebrate this distinctive city that has given me so much other than to honor its citizens who live and breathe it, the ones who radiate the “Spirit of Juneau”.

It was incredible to hear their stories. The vast majority are from the lower 48 states who had come to visit and had never left. Some were born here, had left to pursue advanced eduction or a job, only to find their way back. Juneau was home to each of them. A unexpected discovery was to see so many talented and young entrepreneurs throughout the city. Young adults one would expect to see in major hubs like New York or San Francisco. They were all adamant about their beloved city – it was the best! Let me introduce you to some of them.

Maura Selenak of Almaga Distillery (Above, E in the THE). Originally from Minnesota, she moved to Juneau after falling in love with the dramatic scenery and sense of community. A kindergarten teacher, Maura and her husband founded the craft spirit distillery using a 250-gallon still from Vendome.

Eric Oravsky of Adventure Flow (Above, S in the SPIRIT). Grew up in Montana and was exploring the wilderness with his parents before he could walk. He continued to explore and found photojournalism to raise awareness for the wild places he loves. Keeping active and inspiring others led to him co-founding Adventure Flow.

David McCasland of Deckhand Dave’s (Above, F in the OF). An incredible story of persistence. A young local chef and fisherman, who recently opened a taco truck that serves “to-die-for” panko-crusted salmon sticks and fish tacos. His tartar sauce is a secret recipe and the talk-of-the-town.

Christy Namee Eriksen of Kindred Post (Above, 1st U in JUNEAU). Born in Korea, she grew up in Alaska. Christy is an artist, community activist, educator, and writer whose work is grounded in social justice and community engagement. She is the recipient of the 2013 Mayor’s Award for Artist of the Year, two Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Awards, and the Loft Immersion Fellowship.

Ryan Lindsay of Devil’s Club Brewery (Above, E in the JUNEAU) He began his career working for Bridgeport Brewing Co. in Portland and later found himself commercially brewing for Drifter Brewing Co. in Cape Town, South Africa. During his time with Drifter, his brew was awarded the best light beer in the country of South Africa.

Jessica Hahnlen of Frost and Fur (Above, 2nd U in JUNEAU). Born in Juneau, she lived in Sacramento then moved back with her husband. Her company design and hand-print (she screen-prints her art onto apparel) in Juneau and gives back 3% to local non-profits

Lia Heifetz of Barnacle (Below, O from Love). A lifelong Alaskan, she lives in Juneau with her partner Matt. Together they started Barnacle, turning kelp into tasty snacks, like salsa and pickles. Their mission is to create delicious and healthy foods using Alaskan ingredients to expand the local food economy, build community resiliency and perpetuate stewardship of natural resources.

A whale of a thank you to the FAVORITE BAY LODGE team for an unforgettable weekend!

Thank you Above & Beyond Alaska (ABAK) for a great time at the Mendenhall Glacier.

A HUGE huge thank you to Kara at TRAVEL JUNEAU for her support, Maryann at PEARSON’S POND INN for her incredible hospitality. Special thanks to Adventure Flow, Juneau Whale Tours, Alaska Seaplane, Tracy’s King Crab Shack and Deckhand Dave’s.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Scott Sampson


SCOTT SAMPSON was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. He is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for reimagining cities as places where people and nature thrive. He serves as the President and CEO of Science World British Columbia.

Scott’s scientific research has focused on the ecology and evolution of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, and he has conducted fieldwork in many countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. He has published numerous scientific and popular articles, and regularly speaks to audiences of all ages on topics ranging from dinosaurs and education to sustainability and connecting kids with nature.

Sampson has appeared in many television documentaries and served as a science advisor for a variety of media projects, most recently the BBC movie, Walking With Dinosaurs. He has authored multiple books, including Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life, and How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature. However, he is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company.

3 words to describe Nature?

Interwoven, Nested, Evolving

3 things Nature taught you?

Wonder, Deep Connection, Humility

3 most treasured Nature spots?

While I have had the pleasure of traveling to a number of countries around the world, my most treasured nature spots have been those that I have been able to return to again and again. They are the ones I know the best, and that resonate with me most deeply.

Long Beach (Tofino area), Vancouver Island

Marin Headlands, California

Red Rock Country, southern Utah

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Awe (in its vastness)

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Wonder (in its deep, mostly unseen interconnections)

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Humbled (by the sheer power it represents from within the Earth)

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Tiny, and a little off balance (sitting, as I am, on the side of a giant, rolling sphere)

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Resonance (it is as if I feel the thunder more from the inside out, than the outside in)

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

A deep appreciation for shelter

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Growing up in Vancouver, BC, I was raised at the intersection of ocean, mountain, and forest, so for me they are interwoven. But if I had to pick one only, it would be the ocean.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

While still a child, camping with my family in the interior of British Columbia, I went off on my own (as usual) in search for interesting rocks and (hopefully) fossils. I spent a joyous hour or two on the side of a steep, boulder-strewn slope, turning over rocks and hunting for whatever wonders might be revealed. (I may have rolled a few rocks down the hillside as well.) Eventually I stopped and sat for a long while on a flat rock with a view of the valley below. When I finally headed back to our campsite, I wanted to show my parents where I had been. Late in the day, we walked back to the spot, to find a rattlesnake lounging on the very same flat rock I had sat on just hours earlier. I presume that it was soaking in the last rays of sun before a night of hunting. Although my first reaction was a twinge of fear, my lasting sense was one of interconnection—with the snake, the rock, and that place.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Camille Preston

CAMILLE PRESTON is a psychologist, executive coach, consultant, speaker, and internationally recognized expert on Virtual Effectiveness. She is the founder and CEO of the organizational consulting firm AIM Leadership, and the author of two books: Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World and Create More Flow: Igniting Peak Performance in an Overwired World.

For more than twenty years, Camille has guided leaders, executives, policy makers, professionals, and individuals alike to new heights of leadership, performance, efficiency, and greater happiness and fulfillment. Her clients span industries and fields around the globe, including executives from NBC, Zappos, MGM Mirage, Citrix, the Corporate Executive Board, Mars, Verizon, GE, Capital One, the US Army, and many others.

Beyond work, Camille is an avid runner, yogi, and adventure traveler. She has worked on five continents, traveled to 39 countries, and currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Mark, and their son, Preston and daughter, Adeline.

3 words to describe Nature?

Life-source (vital, energizing)

Teacher

Diversity (if you connect with how amazing, vast, diverse and profound nature is – it transforms your interactions elsewhere…. if you know the dessert and the ocean and the mountains – it helps you deal with different personalities, different life experiences)

3 things Nature taught you?

Centering

Humility (so beautiful, so powerful, so ever-changing)

To recharge OFTEN (being in nature recharges…)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Sitting in a kayak in the center of Squam Lake – especially early morning, at dusk.

Top of Powder Mountain, in Utah – vast views, diverse landscape, intersection of so many forces – wild and beautiful.

Church Island Chapel – Squam. It is a sanctuary in a pine grove, surrounded by water… where I have gone with my greatest heartaches and greatest desires

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Any type of water is profoundly powerful for me as I have a lot of fire in my personality. I need to be around water otherwise I’m off balance. I always seek out water – on my morning runs, on my ideal vacations, etc.

Something about the moisture in the waves, the space that sits above the ocean.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Reminded that I am just part of a larger system, a speck on this earth. You see the grandeur, the longevity, the strength – and it gives me focus.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

It gives me the force to change, surrender to greater things. I loved driving in Chile – so many roads are built to frame a volcano. Almost as if there is deep reverence for their force to create and destroy.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Morning – I think about where / what to create, how to leave a mark and feel a sense of deep possibility.

Evenings – I think about all that is, all that I have been blessed with. There is a sense of gratitude to be.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Humbled by the powerful force of nature – AND all that I don’t understand about it.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Grateful to snuggle deep into bed. For having safety, protection, and emotional community.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I’m a water person… I need to be.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10…. I can tell when I haven’t been “in it”. Nature drives where I live, how I engaged, the ways I create balance within myself.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Every summer I spent at Squam Lake. All this time unplugging, slowing down, learning a new rhythm, adapting to a new pace of life. We would also spend 3-4wks as a family backpacking. Now, as a mom – I’m humbled that they would leave the lake and “choose” a harder interaction with nature – to teach us life skills.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – David Nihill

DAVID NIHILL is the author of the best-selling book Do You Talk Funny? and the Founder of FunnyBizz, a community, writer platform, and conference series, where business meets humor to abolish boring content. His work has been featured in Inc., Lifehacker, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Irish Times, WSJ, and Forbes. A graduate of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School he calls San Francisco home when immigration officials permit, and was named on the 2017 Irish America 100 List, which recognizes the accomplishments of the best and the brightest Irish-American and Irish-born leaders.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring, awe, wonder

3 things Nature taught you? 

Patience, appreciation, fear

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Annanpurna Nepal, Tofu Mozambique, Salt Flats Bolivia

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Like kiteboarding or swimming

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?  

Like running but also like stopping

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

In awe

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Grateful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Like kiteboarding

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

9..but why not 10, it should be 10 🙂

Share with us a childhood nature memory.

When I was 7 years old I went fishing for tadpoles by a small river. I urinated without surveying my surroundings and had an argument with an electrical fence. Exactly as memorable…and painful as it sounds 🙂

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Anique Coffee

ANIQUE COFFEE grew up in the US where she studied Marketing + Entrepreneurial Ventures. After a four-year stint working with Creative Services at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Anique started her own agency, providing a range of services to companies, with a focus on corporate identity and branding. After selling the agency, Anique moved to California and joined the Silicon Valley life in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she helped launch and grow various startups. Anique is driven by relationships and results, and loves connecting with others through shared ideas and celebration of unique differences. Stemming from a love for travel and new cultures, Anique recently relocated to Barcelona, Spain and runs The Collective remotely, embracing the digital nomad lifestyle, enabling her to connect with people and brands all over the globe.

3 words to describe Nature?

Vast. Organic. Expansive.

3 things Nature taught you?

To breathe. To wander. To be open to the things nature shows you when you wander.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The Chuckawalla trail inside Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, near St George Utah

Dipsea Steep Ravine Loop Trail near Stinson Beach, just over the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco

Monterosso al Mare along the Cinque Terre trail in Italy

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm. I had my energy read a few times and every single reader immediately said that water was my element – the natural element that I use when I’m seeking calming. It’s true.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Grateful. Trees are so amazing. They are living, breathing network of organisms that provide oxygen for us to breathe and work WITH each other to survive. I highly recommend this radio lab podcast to understand how amazing forests and trees really are: http://www.radiolab.org/story/from-tree-to-shining-tree/

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Cautiously optimistic.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Renewed.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Homesick. I grew up in Central Florida where thunder and lightning storms are almost a daily occurrence. I used to love sitting on the front porch watching the storms, and when a hurricane was on the way, it would be fun to watch some of the natural debris like Spanish moss whipping around in the huge oak trees in our yard.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you Feel?

Nostalgic for Florida. I have many memories of stormy days and hurricanes there.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Can I be all of them? I love the ocean, but frequently crave the quiet mountain life. I love the lush bright green varieties you can find in the forest. I also lived in the desert in St George Utah for a bit and while I won’t live there again, I really miss the red rocks and gorgeous succulents.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

11. Given our current tech-obsessed culture (which I am often guilty of as a business owner), I find myself craving a hike or a quiet sit on beach weekly. I try to give in to these cravings as much as possible to hit the reset button on myself.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Camping as a family was a big part of my childhood. We’d often pack up the car and caravan with some other friends to a campsite. I specifically remember one evening at dusk – my favorite time of the day – where I found myself in a field, surrounded by fireflies. I had seen and caught them before, but this time was different. Its one of those moments in my life that’s frozen in my memory and was also some kind of out-of-body experience. I can almost see myself swirling around the field, delicately touching the fireflies one by one. Magical bugs. I love them!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Dave Freeman

DAVE FREEMAN have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic. National Geographic named him and his wife, Amy Freeman, Adventurers of the Year in 2014. Their images, videos, and articles have been published by a wide range of media, from CBC, NBC, and FOX to the Chicago Tribune, National Geographic, Outside, Backpacker, Canoe and Kayak, and Minnesota Public Radio. When Dave and Amy aren’t on expeditions or speaking tours, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips near their home on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. Check their educational company – Wilderness Classroom.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Calming, dynamic, grand

3 things Nature taught you? 

Confidence, humility, happiness

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Lake Superior

Amazon Rainforest

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Small

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Young

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Alert

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?  

It depends on the situation anywhere from excited to terrified.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean and Forest, but lakes and rivers more than anything.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I remember by first canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when I was 12. I remember listening to loons calling on calm evenings and catching small mouth bass. It felt like we were in the middle of a vast Wilderness even though we had just scratched the surface.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Arita Baaijens

ARITA BAAIJENS is an explorer, biologist, photographer and writer. She is forever curious about the world and explores both physical landscapes and Mindscapes, those last remaining white spots on the world map that Google Earth is not able to find. Fellow Explorers Club, Royal Geographical Society and WINGS Worldquest, who selected her for the Wings Humanities Award 2014. She has completed over 25 desert expeditions on camel throughout Egypt and Sudan. She is the first woman to have crossed the Western Desert of Egypt solo on camel and the first Western woman to travel the Forty Days Road on camel twice. In Mauritania she photographed the last surviving female caravaneers. Currently Arita Baaijens travels and works in Siberia and Papua New Guinea, to research traditional cultures and sacred landscapes at risk. In 2013 she was the first to circumambulate the Altai Golden Mountains in the heart of Eurasia: 4 countries, 101 days, 1500 km on horseback. In March 2015 the Spanisch Geographical Society honored Arita Baaijens as Traveler of the year. She proudly carried the WINGS flag twice.

Baaijens is a pioneer, innovator and connector. She uses deep mapping and story telling to open people’s minds to different possibilities of explaining the world.

Arita Baaijens has produced radio documentaries, a virtual reality film (2016) and video dispatches about her travels. She has published numerous features about her journeys (see attachments) and to date has published seven books, including the award-winning Desert Songs: A Woman Explorer in Egypt and Sudan (AUC Press 2008). She is one of 50 explorers portrayed in “Modern Explorers” (2013, Thames and Hudson). Her book Looking for Paradise (Atlas Contact, 2016) was short listed for the prestigious Dutch Jan Wolkers Award. Baaijens’ photographic work has been exhibited in museums and gallery’s in England, Sudan, Egypt and the Netherlands. Her 2016 exhibit Search for Paradise in the Ketelfactory Gallery, Netherlands, drew many visitors and caught the attention of the media. It included photography, film, soundscape, a deep map and public lectures. Baaijens is in demand as a speaker both in the Netherlands and abroad, and has presented two TEDxtalks. She is a regular speaker on television and radio. 100+ interviews in magazines and newspapers.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Miraculous, Resilient, Omnipresent

3 things Nature taught you? 

Joy. The meaning of the word Sublime. Also: We need nature, but nature doesn’t need us.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Treasured spots are always Nature spots! The first spot that comes to mind is a lonely and incredibly beautiful and also terrifying spot in the Western Desert of Egypt. It’s an ‘eagles nest’, an outcrop on the edge of a steep and endless limestone cliff. At this spot the surface falls away on all sides but one, the view is incredible. Behind me empty desert, chalk hills, loneliness. And far below sanddunes wherever the eye turns. Incredible, the sand stretches further than the horizon, all the way into Libya. Spectacular, the spot is a strange and horrifying beauty. I have always felt that this is what our planet must have looked like in the days that man was not yet born. Untouched. Scary also, because my water was almost finished when I reached this sport and if I could not find a safe way down the steep cliff that would have been the end of me and my camels .

Second place that comes to mind is the Ukok plateau in south-west Siberia, the Altai Mountains. A very lonely and remote spot, an iconic and sacred glacier valley surrounded by high mountain peaks covered with ice and snow. It is right on the border with Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. Rivers are being born there! Rivers that carry water for 7000 km north to the Arctic Sea. 9 months of the year it is impossible to be there, too cold, too windy, too dangerous. In the summer months the top layer of the frozen soil melts, which creates small streams and dangerous swamps. Many beautiful lakes. View of mountains, tundra and clouds is majestic. Genesis all over!

the Third spot is my garden and tiny hobbit house in the country side. I couldn’t live in Amsterdam if it weren’t for this tiny refuge in the country side. It is a strange place, a green oasis tucked away between a high way and the biggest petrochemical industry area in the Netherlands.  And yet, the green oasis which is part of very old agricultral land has survived and I feel extremely grateful whenever I go there.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

To be honest, Oceans don’t attract me very much. I do like to scuba dive in the Red Sea, it always reminds me of my time in the mother womb. Safe, warm, nourishing, beautiful. If I meet the ocean standing on the beach then something funny happens.  ‘I’ stop to exist, ‘it’ expands, I am the waves and all it contains. I guess the oceans are the alpha & omega of all that is. I wished scientitsts and researchers would leave the depths of the ocean alone. Allow the ocean to keep its secrets, give it privacy! As an explorer I much prefer to stay on land.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

The forest, strangely enough, is also not my favorite environment. Claustrofobic, I need empty spaces, views in 360 degrees. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t love forests, I do! Trees are my friends. They supply oxygen, literraly and figuratively speaking.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Wow!! Here are forces at work that we humans don’t control. Volcanos keep us in check and remind us of our hubris

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Since I became a desert explorer I learned about the power and the magic of a sunrise and a sunset. And I completely understood why the ancient Egyptians worshipped Ra, the sun god.  In the desert I would wake up 2 hours before sun rise, feed the camels, eat breakfast, load the camels and go. That first hour of walking with the camels, pure bliss. As soon as the sun announced its arrival and the first sliver appeared above the horizon I knew that within two hours she would make me suffer. But I always welcomed her with a song (it was no conscious decision to sing, it just happened): ‘Here comes the sun,’ na na na, etc The sun creates the day and brings life. Then, after a long and hard day walking in the heat, I again enjoyed the last hours of day light and would watch, with relief, shadows appear. Those wonderful shadows recreated the 3D world that had disappeared between 9 am till 3 pm. I never ever would miss the spectacle of the sun saying good bye, I would watch in silence how the world I knew would come to an end. After the last sliver of red had fallen of off the earth (that’s how it felt) the sun would set the clouds on fire before it finally disappeared. She left me the moon, the stars and sometimes complete darkness. Nighttime. 10 hours of blissful sleep!

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Alive and in awe, the gods are speaking!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Hard to describe, it is a mix of awe, joy, feeling extremely alive and alert, and yet infinitely small,  just the way I like to feel.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Empty spaces: desert, steppe, tundra, you name it. As long as it is untouched and vast and dangerous for humans

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I grew up near a huge forest. We would go there on Sundays, my parents on their bicycles, my brother and I on the back seat. We would bring snacks, lemonade, sweets. I would disappear in the forest. Trees were pillars of my castle. Moss was the softest carpet imaginable. Dew drops were jewels. It was so quiet! Of course the birds sang and the insects buzzed. But the play of light and shadow, those high trees… created a solemn atmosphere. I would choose a big stone that was covered with soft moss and grass: my throne. And I of course was Alice in Wonderland.

photo credit: Barbara Hanlo

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Katie Losey

A lifelong wildlife enthusiast, KATIE LOSEY loves to explore the world’s most far-flung corners and hopes to inspire others to live out their wildest adventures through her words and images. At the heart of what guides most of her decisions is learning from the natural world, a strong thread throughout her life. Out of college, she began working at nonprofit Puppies Behind Bars, and too many times found herself reading National Geographic articles about the plight of African and Asian elephants. A year later, she was at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Her experiences connecting with these brilliant creatures continues to shape her world.

After returning to NYC from Southeast Asia, Katie found a home at an experiential travel company that plans private, custom journeys. Her trips have put her beneath orangutang swinging across Borneo’s canopy, gliding alongside sharks in Cuba, dancing on a 10,000 year-old glacier in British Columbia, and tracking gorillas in Uganda. Katie’s passion to link travel with conservation spearheaded Absolute Awareness, which connects travelers with the world’s wild places, creatures, and traditions to help champion and protect them.

In 2015 she became a member of The Explorers Club, whose mission is to advance field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. In 2017 she co-chaired the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner, helping conceptualize and execute the longest standing philanthropic event in NYC history and a gathering of > 1200 world-class explorers in New York City.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Genius, wise, interconnected

3 things Nature taught you? 

Be patient

Seek symbiotic relationships

Find your own rhythm.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Malaysian Borneo Rainforest

Underwater world

The stream behind my house growing up in NY suburbs.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

At ease

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Inspired

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Serene

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Forest

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Everyday after school I would go down to the stream behind my house and hang over a log that had fallen across the stream and watch the minnows, crayfish, and would just be so happy. I would bring my friends down there and I would know every rock, every fish hiding spot, the sunny spots, the bugs ones…loved it down there!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Richard Titus

RICHARD TITUS was named one of the Wired 100 in 2010. Serial entrepreneur and executive, Richard  has a passion for technology & innovation. His startups include Razorfish, Schematic & Videoplaza. Titus’s most recent startup, Prompt.ly, was co-founded in 2013 and sold in 2016 to Breezeworks.

More recently, until February 2017, Richard led customer experience for Samsung Electronics Visual display division globally. While there he led User experience & design globally, and portions of its product planning & new product development functions for Consumer Electronics & Digital Appliance divisions. Richard has been an active blockchain investor & advisor for 5+ years, his most recent ICO’s include Hive and 2030.

Richard previously he held senior leadership roles at the British Broadcasting Corporation (Future Media Controller) where he launched iPlayer and the BBC mobile service and subsequently served as CEO of Associated Northcliffe Digital, the digital holding company of DMGT’s (Daily Mail) digital holding company. He is based in San Francisco, California.

3 words to describe Nature?

Warm (even when cold), Calm, Home

3 things Nature taught you?

Respect for my limitations

Humility around our role on earth

Awe of the complexity, grandeur and ingenuity

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Iceland –  the whole damn thing

Atacama desert, Chile

Yosemite Valley, California – which is magical even now after 10+ visits

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Mediative effect of the waves

Longing to escape wherever I am (swim away).

Eagerness to jump on a wave.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I love the forest for the organic.

The surprise that the bed of pine needles could be so rough, prickly and yet simultaneously soft and welcoming.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

It’s funny I just saw one in Nicaragua this week. A melding of fear, awe and fascination with the danger & power + warmth of what lies beneath the surface.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

My house is in the hills and faces east. I watch the sunrise every day its part of my meditation routine. I feel a sense of rebirth, beginning, but also quiet contemplation. Happiness. No sunrise has ever made me feel sad.

Sunset, I always feel a mix of sadness about those things left incomplete and relief from the same burden.

When my daughters were younger, I used to wake them up to watch the sunrise. We pretended we could conduct it! “ok over there lets get a little more opacity on the water now. People work with me there’s too much bloody purple.. ” that kind of thing. They loved it. They still describe those memories as some of their favorites.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Tumultuous Excitement

Expectation

Occasional dread

When my daughters were young, and somewhat afraid of thunder & lightning, I used to lay in their room (high on a hill where we felt on par with the storm) and I would pretend I could “speak storm” – translating the sounds into funny conversation.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Anxiety. Its the only storm sound I don’t like. Years of danger rock climbing and camping. Wind was something that could cause significant distress.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain for sure. though ocean gets a strong 2nd mention.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

Nature is where I go to recharge – even nature photos help me center myself.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

As a child we drove from Orange County CA to  Washington DC across the country. Twice.  I remember being astounded at the diversity of landscape, the way it evolved and iterated. I found the land and nature would reflect themselves in the people. The Stoicism of the montana’ians. The Friendliness of the midwest farmers…

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Alison Davis

Alison Davis is co-founder of Fifth Era. She is a global strategist, finance professional, public company board director and active investor in growth companies. She is currently a director of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Fiserv (FISV), Unisys (UIS) and Ooma (OOMA), and is chair of the advisory board for BlockChain Capital. She is a former director of, City National Bank (CYC), Diamond Foods (DMND), First Data Corporation (FDC), Xoom (XOOM), and many private companies and was the Chairman of LECG (XPRT) until its sale in 2011. She has chaired audit, compensation, and governance committees and is a frequent speaker on corporate governance. Alison was previously the managing partner of Belvedere Capital, a private equity firm focused on investing in US banks and financial services firms. Prior to this, Alison was the Chief Financial Officer of Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRock), the world’s largest institutional investment firm with more than $1.5 trillion of assets under management. Earlier in her career, Alison spent 14 years as a strategy consultant and advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs, boards and executive teams with McKinsey & Company,and as a practice leader with A.T. Kearney where she built and led the global Financial Services Practice.

Alison is also the co-author of the best selling books Build Your Fortune in the Fifth Era: How to Prosper in an Age of Unprecedented Innovation & Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era: Lessons from Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft

Alison is active in the community supporting non-profits and social enterprises as a board director, fundraiser and volunteer. She has been frequently named a “Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times. She received a B.A. Honors and a Master’s in Economics from Cambridge University in England, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after completing the first-year at Harvard. She was born in Sheffield, UK, is now a dual US/UK citizen and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Matthew C. Le Merle, and their five children.

3 words to describe Nature?

Vast, magical, glorious

3 things Nature taught you?

To breathe

To be delighted

To be in awe

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Any grassy spot where I can sit or lie in the sun and let the earth hold me

A secret bench on Ring Mountain Tiburon from which to view the Bay and coastline and Marin townships

From a canoe in the middle of Lake Tahoe

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Alive

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Curious

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Blessed, happy

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Exhilarated and powerful

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Energized, bold

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean or Mountain

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

7

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Rambling in the Yorkshire Moors and Derbyshire Dales with my grandfather and often getting delightfully lost

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Rick Roberts

RICK ROBERTS is the Director, Hospitality Operations for Summit Powder Mountain in beautiful Eden, Utah. Summit Powder Mountain is a year-round destination for an ongoing program of events and activities – a home to the emergent culture of creativity and collaboration exemplified by the Summit community. Summit Powder Mountain is the largest skiable resort in North America and is preserving its magical skiing experience for generations to come and to save it from overdevelopment. Summit is now focused on building a new urban village at 8600 feet, showing that by developing a portion of the mountain responsibility, the entirety can be saved from overdevelopment.

Prior to joining the Summit family, Rick served 21 years in the Air Force as a dedicated and experienced thought leader and innovator with a history of delivering measurable results while leading teams of 500 in dynamic, combat and non-combat environments. He is a highly decorated veteran that possess a comprehensive background of managing large scale hospitality operations, fitness and recreation programs, human resources, and capital planning.

Additionally, he volunteers for Healthy Body Healthy Life, a non-profit educating individuals, changing families and growing communities. He is extremely passionate about outdoor recreation and the therapeutic effects it can have for veterans challenged with post-traumatic stress.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring, calming, pure

3 things Nature taught you? 

Humility, courage, determination

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Havasu Falls, Interlocken, Switzerland, Cliffs of Moher

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Vulnerable…it’s another world

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Curious

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Powerful

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Thankful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Anxious

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Attentive

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Mountain

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I was always fond of being out on a lake fishing with my Dad. After serving in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, fishing brought him peace and joy. I appreciate those special moments with him.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Praveen Varshney

PRAVEEN VARSHNEY has been a principal of Varshney Capital Corp., a Vancouver based merchant banking, venture capital and corporate advisory services firm, since 1991. He is a director or officer of various publicly traded companies including Mogo (Co-Founder) and BetterU Education Corp. He is a Co-Founder of G-PAK and former CFO of Carmanah Technologies Corp. which became Canada’s largest solar company. He was Co-Founder of a predecessor of Mountain Province Diamonds who’s Gahcho Kué in September 2016 became the world’s largest new diamond mine since 2003 & De Beers’ second-largest producer behind its Jwaneng mine in Botswana.

Mr. Varshney is a Toniic member and a long-time member of both EO Entrepreneurs Organization & TiE (Founding Director). He’s on a number of non-profit boards such as The Varshney Family Charitable Foundation, OneProsper.org and a Founding Member of instrumentbeyondborders.org. Mr. Varshney is a SVP Vancouver Partner, a Vancouver Police Foundation Trustee, and on the Advisory boards of Room to Read – Vancouver and The Thomas Edison Innovation Foundation in New Jersey, USA.

Mr. Varshney is a past recipient of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 Awards.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Amazing, beautiful, wonderful.

3 things Nature taught you? 

To be grateful for the things in life that are free & can provide so much happiness – grass, flowers, trees.

Can also be a force to be reckoned with so to be respectful of that & situations that can arise.

There has to be a God, who else & how else could all this have been created!

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Any beach on the planet, especially in Pt.Roberts, WA, USA where we have a small cabin by the ocean.

Walking through Pacific Spirit Regional Park near our home in Vancouver with our labradoodle dog, Ozzy.

Anywhere in Hawaii like on the Big Island where we have a home.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Wonderful!

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Alive!

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

In awe!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Thankful to be alive & happy.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

A bit scared & a bit in awe.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

A bit scared & a bit in awe.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Wow tough choice, I’m going to go with Ocean.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10 but 12 if you’ll let me go with it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Growing up during the younger years, because our parents didn’t have much money, we did a lot of picnics so I have vivid amazing memories of all the various parks in the city & neighboring areas we’d visit, my siblings & I would toss a baseball around & even play hockey on the grass with street hockey sticks!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Julie Pointer Adams

JULIE POINTER ADAMS is an artist, floral designer, and most recently, author and photographer of a book on hospitality called Wabi-Sabi Welcome: Learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease. She lived in Portland, Oregon for a number of years where she developed and directed the international community events for Kinfolk magazine alongside Editor Nathan Williams. Julie currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with her husband, Ryan.

3 words to describe Nature?

Healing, calming, worshipful

3 things Nature taught you?

To let go of worry; to be still and listening; to find beauty in unsuspecting places.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Sauvie Island, Oregon; St. John River, New Brunswick, Canada; beaches along the Santa Barbara, California coastline

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Powerless and grateful

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Quiet

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Small and temporal

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Happy-sad and hopeful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Grounded

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Alive and reflective, as if a change is coming.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10!

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Most summers as a child were spent visiting my mother’s extended family in New Brunswick, Canada along the St. John River. I remember long days spent outside swimming, canoeing and exploring, but I particularly recall one day sitting hidden in the midst of tall grasses on a sloping hillside, shaded by birch trees. I felt in that moment that nature would always be a safe hiding place—a place to retreat to and be cradled by.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Kengo Kuma

KENGO KUMA was born in 1954. He completed his master’s degree at the University of Tokyo in 1979. After studying at Columbia University as Visiting Scholar, he established Kengo Kuma & Associates 1990. In 2009, he was installed as Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Tokyo.

Among Kuma’s major works are Kirosan Observatory (1995), Water/Glass (1995, received AIA Benedictus Award), Noh Stage in the Forest (received 1997 Architectural Institute of Japan Annual Award), Bato-machi Hiroshige Museum (received The Murano Prize). His recent works include Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum (2010), Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center (2012), Nagaoka City Hall Aore (2012) and Ginza Kabukiza (2013). Outside Japan, Besancon Arts and Culture Center, FRAC Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence Conservatoire of Music were completed in 2013. Currently, about 100 projects are going on in Japan, Europe, USA, China and many other Asian countries. Kengo Kuma & Associates are also engaged in the designing of the new national stadium in Japan.

Kuma is also a prolific writer, including Anti-Object, translated into English. Most of his latest titles have been published in English, Chinese and Korean and have won wide readership from around the world.

3 words to describe Nature?

Integration, interaction, softness

3 things Nature taught you?

Kindness, warmth, calmness

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Kanda River near my house, cemetery near my workplace, & the blue sky

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Why could it appear so different every day?

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Calm down and relax

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

The axis, the verticality that connects the earth and the sky.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Peaceful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Memory of summer holiday in childhood

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Sound of the glass trembling in my old house I lived as a child.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Forest

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

There was a bamboo bush behind our house. I often changed into rain boots to explore the nature there.

Photo credit: The Courier

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Maita Barrenechea

MAITA BARRENECHEA is a pioneering and leading luxury and experiential Travel Specialist, based in Argentina. She is the founder of MAI 10, one of the world’s most prestigious Luxury and Experiential Travel companies. Travel+Leisure has awarded her, for several years now, as one of the World’s Top Ten Power-Brokers, Most Informed, Well-connected and Influential persons in the travel industry. Town & Country magazine named her “The Travel Goddess”. She is a Case Study at Wharton University as the most successful women entrepreneurs in South America and is featured as one of the main characters in the book “Women Entrepreneurs – Inspiring Stories“. The leading luxury travel association Virtuoso, which gathers the top travel and hospitality companies in the world, awarded her with the Best of the Best Travel Award, Best Event Planner, & Best Voyager Club Event. Her clients include U2, Jimmy Buffett, Caroline Kennedy, Jane Fonda, Mick Jagger, Michael Keaton, and many others.

3 words to describe Nature?

Marvel

Life

Glory

… oh and Creation

3 things Nature taught you

Humbleness

Wonder

Gratitude

(but then also Respect, Care, Patience, Appreciation, Imagination, Silence)

3 most treasured Nature spots

A mountain stream

A glacial lake

A coral reef

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Freedom, Rapture, Musical, Harmony, Melancholy, Respect

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Secluded, Happy , Solace , Accompanied, Moody

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Awe, Restlessness, Uncertainty

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Love, Romance, Emotion

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Respect

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Courageous, Desolate

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain with forests (or the green valley between mountains)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

The memories of camping and listening to the silence of the night and the sounds of nature are very dear to me. I remember the breeze at the top of the trees, the calling of birds when they start to serenade the day, the break of dawn and the glory of the morning, all of it brings magical memories to me.

The first time I looked underwater a coral reef, I was marvelled by the magic of life found under the sea.

I fly-fish and feel there is a profound connection with nature. When I am at the river, I can sit by the bank for hours, listening to rushing water and the breeze in the trees. I love to peruse at rocks and driftwood, and walk downstream watching the bird life around and the insect hatches.

I enjoy the theory that surrounds the art of fly-fishing, learning to read the river to guess where the trouts are lying, understanding the cycle of nature, the food sources we try to imitate, more so if you tie your own flies. You learn to look out for surface activity which will become the target of your fly presentation so as to draw the attention of the fish, you search the ripples to anticipate the direction of their moves, you sight birds collecting insects in the air or off the water, and watch the rolling rise of a trout. The purpose of fishing may be to outsmart a fish, but soon you learn how selective they can be.

There is also the innate beauty in a fly cast. The rhythm and graceful curves of the line in the air and the constant aim of the perfect loop. Fly casting has a poetic nature of its own. But what I enjoy the most about fishing is being immersed in nature, feeling the sounds and the silence, the murmur of the river, and discovering the surrounding wilderness. I’ve learnt to bird-watch and am infinitely intrigued by the behaviour of birds, I enjoy studying the wildflowers and identifying animal tracks.

When you fish you interact with nature. You feel the water, the wind, the strength of the current. I can still feel the thrill of a trout taking the fly and relentlessly fighting to get away. It is quite magical to cast a dry-fly and let it drift along the surface, and alas, see the actual bite and feel the adrenaline that follows. But there is so much peace when you are enveloped by nature that I many times find myself wishing a fish will not bite, so as not to disturb its life nor the tranquility of the spectacle.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Robert Clark

ROBERT CLARK is a freelance photographer based in New York City, working with the world’s leading magazines, publishers and cutting edge advertising campaigns, as well as the author of four monographs: Evolution A Visual Record, Feathers Displays of Brilliant Plumage, First Down Houston A Year with the Houston Texans and Image America – the first photography book shot solely with a cellphone camera. During his twenty-year association with National Geographic, Clark has photographed more than 40 stories. His cover article “Was Darwin Wrong?” helped National Geographic garner a National Magazine award in 2005. Early in his career, Clark documented the lives of high school football players for the book Friday Night Lights. In 2003, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston brought Clark back to Texas to capture the first year of the new NFL team, the Houston Texans. Clark recently directed the short film “8 Seconds” as part of an advertorial campaign for Russell Athletic. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter, and is the owner of Ten Ton Studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. He can be followed on Instagram.

3 things Nature taught you?

Patience

The awesome power of geological evolution

How fragile it all is when we ignore it

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Joshua Tree

The Kluane National Park, Canada

The Andes, above the Sacred Valley​

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Full of possibilities

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I find forests spooky.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I repelled into Vesuvio ​for a National Geographic story and it made me feel the power of Nature at awe of the amount of force that was released in the blasts from the volcano.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I think about good light for photography, and either way it is a new beginning.​

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Reminds me of my childhood in Western Kansas​.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Running in Western Kansas, it is always windy in my home town.​

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

l love the desert.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

Increasingly more important after living in Brooklyn for so long.​

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My home was on the Monarch butterfly migration route, I remember going to a creek in a park and sitting down and having the butterflies cover me from head to toe.

 

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Chef Nyesha J. Arrington

A former apprentice of legendary French Chef Joel Robuchon, Nyesha is celebrated for her advocacy of using farm fresh, locally, and responsibly sourced ingredients.

In 2012, she was recognized by Zagat.com as one of the 30 Under 30 – LA’s Hottest Up-And-Comers as well as Where LA’s top talent under30. She was also profiled in LA Weekly’s People issue as one of the most 69 interesting people to watch in 2012. In 2013 she won the cooking competition show Knife Fight on Esquire Network and later returned to Knight Fight in 2014 as a Guest Chef Judge. In 2015, Nyesha crafted the creative cooking vision behind Progressive California Cuisine at LEONA, in the heart of Venice, CA. During her tenure with LEONA, GQ Magazine named Arrington’s Hibiscus-Cured Yellowtail dish “ Most Sexy of 2016 ”, and Nyesha was also awarded the title of ” Chef of the Year ” – EATER LA. In 2016 Chef Arrington was awarded “Top 10 Dish of Los Angeles 2016” – Jonathan Gold .

Currently, Nyesha continues to innovate by drawing inspiration from her diverse cultural background and French-technique while maintaining her mission to spread the message of love through food using every plate as a new canvas of creation.

3 words to describe Nature?

Life, Inspiration, Seasonal

3 things Nature taught you?

Respect, Culture, Lifecycle

3 most treasured Nature spots?

1 Vasquez rocks

2 Poppy fields antelope valley

3 Monkey canyon ( hidden waterfall)

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Zen

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Rooted

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Respect

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

At peace

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Vulnerable

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like a pilar

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean for sure!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Fishing with my Dad is one my my favorite childhood memories. I remember going out to lakes and catching my first fish made me feel powerful. I’ll never forget the respect for life I learned those days.

 

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Carine Clark

CARINE CLARK serves on the Executive Board of Silicon Slopes. She has decades of experience building successful software companies and most recently was the CEO of MaritCX, Allegiance Software and CMO of Symantec.

She has been recognized with numerous awards, including being inducted into the Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame, named 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Utah Region, and 2015 CEO of the Year by Utah Business magazine. She was ranked by ExecRank as #47 of all CMO’s worldwide in 2012. Clark received her bachelor’s degree in organizational communications as well as a master’s degree in business administration.

In 2012 Carine was diagnosed with a rare form of Ovarian Cancer. She did 18 months of treatment and is nearly 5 years clear from her toughest chemo. She works as an advocate for cancer research, works with newly diagnosed patients and mentors many young people in her spare time. This summer she will be riding on the Hunstman Cancer’s Survivor team at the Little Red Bike race. She’s hopelessly devoted to the men in her life: her husband of 34 years and her two amazing sons. She’ll tell you she’s the most blessed human on the planet.

3 words to describe Nature?

Captivating, Breathtaking, Peace

3 things Nature taught you?

1. That the planet is glorious.

2. That nature has a soul and a personality.

3. That she can delight in the smallest and biggest ways.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

1. Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii

2. Zions Canyon in Southern Utah

3. The Pennine Alps which includes Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Anxious – the power scares me and yet I’m drawn to it.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Protected.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Awestruck that the planet is creating new parts of the planet.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Happy to still be on the planet. I try to watch the sunrise everyday over Mt. Timpanogos in Utah.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Alive. I can watch it for hours.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like it’s trying to tell me a story with highs and lows.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

Can I say 20? I get super cranky when I can’t get outside every day.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

When I was 10 my parents would alternate summer weekends between Virginia Beach and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I remember sleeping in a tent in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the pouring rain and staying up all night listening to the rhythm of the rain not wanting to fall a sleep and not wanting it to stop. I was warm, safe and dry but I felt like I was inside the rain clouds listening to the rain in the forrest.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Davis Smith

DAVIS SMITH is the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear brand with a humanitarian mission. He is also a member of the eight-person United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council. Davis is a serial entrepreneur who previously started Baby.com.br, Brazil’s Startup of the Year in 2012. Davis holds an MBA from the Wharton School, an MA from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from BYU. Davis is an adventurer who has visited 70 countries. He has floated down the Amazon on a self-made raft, camped in the Sahara Desert, kayaked from Cuba to Florida, and explored North Korea.

3 words to describe Nature?

Raw, Fragile, Inspiring

3 things Nature taught you?

I began spending time in the outdoors before I can remember, but some of my first lessons learned while adventuring with my father are that:

1. Nature needs to be respected because while infinitely beautiful, it will eat you alive.

2. In my lowest moments, nature has lifted me up and inspired me.

3. I’ve always felt that nature has shown me that there is something bigger than myself. Spending time in the outdoors connects me with things that are truly important.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

1. The red rock canyons of Southern Bolivia, where I lived for a number of years as a young adult.

2. Cotopaxi national park in Ecuador, where I spent some of my childhood and early teen years.

3. The Wasatch Mountains that tower above Salt Lake City, where I currently live.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Small and vulnerable.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Safe, overwhelmed with beautiful sounds, smells and sights.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Humbled and melancholy (I grew up in the Andes surrounded by amazing volcanos which I often summited with my father).

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Overwhelming joy. Is there anything that can fill a heart or bring a smile faster?

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

An urge to run and duck for cover!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Somewhat intimidated, but I love the sound when I’m in a tent.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I’ve spent eight years living in the Caribbean, so I’m obsessed with the ocean. I love kayak touring, diving, snorkeling, spearfishing and camping on the beach. That said, I’ve lived in Utah for a number of years now and have really grown to love the mountains.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is to your well-being?

8. I love the outdoors, but I own an outdoor gear brand and have a small family, both which keep me indoors quite often. I’ve found that surrounded by people I love, I can also get immense joy even when not outdoors.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Some of my fondest memories as a child were spending time adventuring with my dad. We once built our own raft and floated down the Amazon river fishing for piranha. We also survived on uninhabited islands in the Caribbean, spearing fish with home-made spears. My brother and I spent hours every day exploring and building forts in the jungle behind our home when we lived in Puerto Rico. My childhood is full of memories in nature. Most incredibly pleasant, but some memories are of times that were terrifying and scary. It was those moments, however, that gave me such a deep respect for nature and taught me to respect it and always be prepared for the worst.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Hiroko Demichelis

HIROKO I. DEMICHELIS  holds a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology and one in an Applied Positive Psychology (University of East London, Uk). She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, she is certified in neurofeedback and in EMDR. She is trained in Mindfulness (Bangor University) and she is an advocate for modern meditation. She is the owner of the Vancouver Brain Lab, a clinical practice dedicated to support individuals to heal, flourish and reach their potential. Also, She is the co-founder of Moment Meditation, a project based on science based meditation. She is the proud mom of Blanca, she loves good Italian fashion, design and gelato.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Pristine, astonishing, restorative.

3 things Nature taught you?

You cannot stop the wind with your hands, everything shifts and nothing stays the same. When in the quicksand, stop fighting and try to float

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Third Beach. Whyteclyff park (the little island you can only reach w low tide), a secret little fall on the way to Whistler

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

The sound of the waves calms whatever storm is happening in my brain. I swim in the ocean all year long. I go and I scream out loud (it is soo cold so to distract myself I scream: “it’s tropical!!!” ). It feels like a hug!

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Forests feels like a crowd of friends!

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Volcano! I have only seen Mount Etna in Sicily from afar. It made me feel like I should always be humble!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

A wonderful holiday in the BVI. Romantic. 😉

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Childhood in Venice, where everything shakes!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Safe if I am cosy at home.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean, big time.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9. A lot.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My childhood was spent in Venice, Italy. We have a very special type of nature is Venice as it is surrounded by a lagoon. One of my best memories is being on my dad’s rowing boat, in the lagoon, my mom and dad chatting, playing guitar, drinking wine with friends, and us children watching the stars.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ru Mahoney

RU MAHONEY is a freelance Science Impact Producer based in Seattle, WA. She works at the nexus of conservation, education, and storytelling to catalyze interdisciplinary approaches to increasing science literacy and engaging public audiences. Her research on science communication has been supported by the National Science Foundation, and she has been a contributor to Jackson Hole WILD, Science Media Awards and Summit in the HUB, Utah Public Radio, TEDxHunstville, and the National Children’s Forest program. Ru is currently a research and impact production consultant on two feature-length documentaries.

3 words to describe Nature?

Primal. Nostalgic. Restorative.

3 things Nature taught you?

That change is inevitable, that those who adapt thrive, and that if you make Nature your home you can be at home anywhere.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Lake Superior is powerful. I spent a lot of summers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If I could buy a lake cottage tomorrow, it would be somewhere along the coast of Superior.

The west coast of Scotland is stunning. My father’s family emigrated from there, so I’m a little biased. But there’s a reason the drive from Glencoe to the Isle of Skye is world-famous. I’ll keep going back as long as I’m living. It’s all my favorite colors and landscapes in a beautiful day’s drive. Even if it’s cold and rainy, which is often.

Pololu Valley on The Big Island in Hawai`i is worth getting up before dawn for. It’s wild north shore waves, stacked mountain cliffs, and moss covered trees all in one. Plus the trail down gives a perfect vantage for watching the sunrise so the sea cliffs slide through gradients of pink and gray light. It’s really special.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Dangerously prone to immediate wanderlust.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Present. This is my happy place and where I go if I need clarity and peace.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Insignificant. I recently had the chance to be very close to gushing lava and my reaction was surprisingly visceral. I often feel a sense of belonging to nature. Like it knows me, and if I’m respectful I will be safeguarded. (That’s not really true of course, but that feeling makes me careful but brave.) With the lava I felt a strong sense of not belonging. It was an interesting first for me.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Really conscious of time passing, and a determination to make the most of it.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Calm. Happy calm. That might sound counter-intuitive, but I grew up in Florida where thunder was frequent. I think it triggers a sense of nostalgia and well-being for me. It’s definitely the best soundtrack to sleep to.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Introspective. Like change might be coming, either outside or inside myself.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mostly forest for sure, but forest near the ocean. The smell of salt in the air is one of those simple things that make me feel grounded and deeply satisfied. I recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and I can’t get enough of being near beautiful forests that smell like salt and earth. It’s definitely where I feel most like myself.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10! It’s an enormous part of my identity and the catalyst for most of my self-knowledge.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My family spent quite a lot of time outdoors. My parents where both school teachers and we lived out of a van in the summers, usually heading north to the Boundary Waters, into Canada, sometimes taking trains further north when there weren’t any roads to take. I didn’t know the term “dirtbagger” then, but we were living that lifestyle to the max every summer of my life. It fundamentally shaped who I am.

One summer we were camping near Au Train, MI and there were northern lights. I was pretty young – maybe six or seven? – but I remember my parents waking me up and giving me a big blanket to wrap up in. Then my dad put me up on top of our van and I remember sitting up on the roof watching the aurora and thinking the world was full of magic.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – My mother

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Families are complicated. After 15 years of tumultuous and often absent communication, my mother and I have mended our differences and picked up where we left off, back to a time when our relationship was what one of a mother-son should be. A lot of who I am today is because of her, even my love of nature.  As a young boy, she always made sure that we spent as much time exploring the shores of the St-Lawrence river or roaming the local woods. I am really grateful for the values and skills she taught me. Thank you mother.

3 words to describe Nature?

Beauty, Respect and Strength

3 things Nature taught you?

That beauty doesn’t cost a thing. That it is the best place for your mind to wander and meditate. That we need to respect it because, simply, we are part of it.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Close to water so that I can hear the sound of waves or the sound of a running creek. Leaning against a tree so that I can feel its energy. Walking under the rain, even better when it is warm.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

In peace, meditative, and small.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

If alone, I am a bit worried. If I am with others, I feel in harmony, I feel the energy.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

In awe… from far away. But also insecure.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Happy, calm, mesmerized by the perfect beauty. I am fascinated by how it changes, how it evolves – the colors, shades and forms.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

I simply love hearing thunder! It is so delightful! It is exciting! I want to run outside and watch the storm… from sitting on a chair on a veranda though!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

I love falling asleep to the sound of the wind whistling. That said, I wouldn’t want to be in a hurricane or tornado – terrifying!

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Water!! Whether the ocean, a river, or a creek.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10. But at the same time, I am not dependant on it to be happy.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

One memory I have is at my grand parents’ chalet, there was a vast field nearby where we gathered wild berries. Another one is by the St-Lawrence River where I spent countless hours playing in tide pools looking for little fish and shells. I also remember loving relaxing in a hammock, looking up to the sky and the top of trees, just letting my imagination run free.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Meredith Shirk

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MEREDITH SHIRK is the founder of Svelte, a multifaceted approach to attaining one’s optimal lifestyle. Shirk is  passionate about achieving peak performance and has consulted for major fitness brands. She is currently developing a line of health food products. She holds a NASM Personal trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certifications and is a former 3x All – America collegiate water polo player.

3 words to describe Nature?

Powerful. Unmoving. Serene

3 things Nature taught you?

Sufficiency. Patience. To Be humble

3 most treasured Nature spots?

7 Sisters, Baja Mexico. Open Ocean near West palm beach Florida. Under the ocean

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm. Reflective. Grateful

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Small. Appreciative. Awe struck

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Vulnerable. Curious. Amazed

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Happy. Peaceful. Like time has stopped

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited. A bit scared. Intrigued

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Nostalgic. Restless. Like I need to nestle in

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

OCEAN 😉

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

12

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I used to dive the reefs of west palm beach with my father and sisters.  No matter what mood i was in every time i was submerged in the ocean water, everything was calm. One afternoon my dad took me to dive the “Breakers Reef” and I remember diving down to the bottom (maybe 10 feet), and just sitting there.  I was just 13 or 14 years old, but I vividly remember seeing a large group of jacks swimming in front of me. They were HUGE fish, but just so graceful in the water… That moment has stuck with me as I just remember the feeling of being so small in something so vast and beautiful…

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Cody Shirk

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CODY SHIRK is an international investor who sources his deals by one simple method: exploring.

3 words to describe Nature?

Pure, vast, mystery

3 things Nature taught you?

Humility, joy, fear

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Channel Islands (off of California), Baja desert, Central America jungle

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Humbled

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Curious

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Fearful

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Lucky

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Alive

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Aware

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I grew up in a rural area of Malibu, CA. I didn’t have any friends that lived close by, so I’d spend most of my days hiking or surfing by myself. On the weekends, I’d often pack a small backpack with water and food. I’d just start walking into the hills, bushwhacking the coastal chaparral and avoiding cactus. I always wanted to know what was around the next corner, because I knew there was a good chance no one had ever walked the ground that I was on. I’ve always like that feeling. The feeling of mystery. Of curiosity. Of knowing that the next corner could be hiding an incredible secret. On one of these hikes, I had probably walked several miles into the hills. It had taken me hours of climbing over rocks, avoiding yucca bushes, and picking ticks off my arms. I was probably 12 years old at the time, so although I was adventurous, I still had that childhood fear of the unknown inside of me. I ended up hiking into a dried up creek bed with sheer stone walls on either side. After walking up the creek bed for a little while I came to a huge rock that was a waterfall during the rainy season. At the base of the waterfall was a small amount of water. I couldn’t hike up the waterfall face and either side was impassible. It was a box canyon. What I didn’t notice was that there was an enormous coyote drinking water from the tiny amount of left over water. It’s grey coat perfectly blended in with the stone background. Frozen in fear, I just looked at the animal. I realized that I had completely blocked it’s exit, and I knew that I was in an extremely vulnerable position. I though the coyote was going to eat me. I just stood there. The coyote finally walked towards me and passed by me within an arms length. It didn’t run and it didn’t avoid me. It just casually walked by while making perfect eye contact. Maybe some kind of mutual understanding.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Michele Benoy-Westmorland

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MICHELE BENOY-WESTMORLAND is a freelance photographer represented by Getty, Corbis, and other major agencies. She is a Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers and The Explorers Club. In 2001 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the NANPA Fellows Award. She has won several awards, including the Environmental Photography Invitational, Photo District News, and the PNG Underwater Photo Competition. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Outdoor Photographer, Scuba Diving, and many other conservation, outdoor, and underwater magazines. She is currently directing her first documentary “Headhunt Revisited”, the story of Caroline Mytinger, an American portrait painter best known for her paintings of indigenous people in the South Seas during the late 1920s.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awakening, spiritual, renewing

3 things Nature taught you?

Humbleness, respect, patience

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea; Cape Nelson, Papua New Guinea; the mountains & forests of the Pacific Northwest

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

You now are asking the right person!  Peaceful, joyful and sometimes sadness in respect to the condition of our ocean environment

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I feel much the same about the forests as I do the oceans.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Awe, amazement, admiration

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Joyful, thankful, restful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Amazement, wonderment, sometime surprised with a touch of fear

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel?

Since I lived in Miami during Hurricane Andrew, howling winds always make me feel a little stressed and careful about being outdoors.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Spending time camping in beautiful forests with my family

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Charlene Winfred

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CHARLENE WINDFRED is a Fujifilm X-Photographer who captures exquisitely the byproduct of a life in perpetual transit. She was born and raised in Singapore. She lived for 15 years in Australia. In 2013, she sold everything and began the life of a nomad.

3 words to describe Nature?

Overwhelming, longing, life

3 things Nature taught you?

That life persists. That death comes for us all. That to be able to walk, to test my body against the earth, is one of the finest abilities I am lucky enough to take for granted (at the moment, anyway)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park. The open ocean. Any inner city park, being the closest I normally get to Nature… sad but true!

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Overwhelmed and calmed at the same time

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to go for a very long walk and look at everything. This very rarely happens, however.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I’ve never actually seen one, so I’ll get back to you when I do!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Sunrise – it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those. Next! Sunset – whenever I’m in a position to see an entire sunset vista, it honestly makes me feel like having a glass of wine.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Glad to be inside!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like I want to be outside, running around like a crazy person.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Of the 4, the Ocean has been the only one I can say I’ve been to enough to be familiar with its many moods. I like to think I’d be a mountain person, because I find rocks strangely comforting to be around (and climbing is one of the things I’ve wished I could afford to do since I was a kid), but that could be me romanticizing both mountains and my affinity for them! Again, will get back to you if/when that actually happens.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10, because it’s everything. We can’t live without nature can we?

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

There are no maritime background, or lineage of proud/rogue sailors in my family’s runaway past. My father was a mad keen fisherman though, and that’s probably where my draw to the ocean started. Dad would disappear for days on these extended fishing trips in the South China sea when I was little, bringing back ice chests full of all sorts of fish and a bunch of awesome stories each time (he was a sensational story teller). I begged to go for years and kept being told it would happen as soon as I was old enough.

So that was my 8th birthday present. My parents worried for their small, sickly child out at sea during the onset of the monsoon season, but as Dad would recall about 20 years later, I’d positively flourished in those 5 days. That was the beginning of yearly trips in Malaysian waters.

The things I remember about being at sea: Stormy days – large approaching masses of angry water waiting to eat the boat, securing anything that would fly when being tossed around. Listening to the boat creak and moan woefully in the thrash. Afterwards, small fish roiling on the water as the clouds moved away, far as the eye could see in every direction; a lone marlin worrying a frantic ball of its prey in the water, the glorious still-frame of a sailfish in flight, a line of sunlight gleaming off its saltwater lacquered dorsal fin, down curved flank and flashing off its sickle of tail. The curious, heady mix of brine and diesel fumes (and in this case, old fish) that to me, will always mean “port.”

But what I retain most about those days is staring up at clouds puffing into existence, wavering shards of sunlight converging conical to a point in the water, or at a horizon that was never really still, the way it is on land. I never took to fishing, but it allowed me to spend days dreaming in any available spot on the boat, with or without a rod in hand.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Flemming Bo Jensen

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FLEMMING BO JENSEN is a Fujifilm ambassador, official Red Bull photographer and renowned music photographer. Music, especially electronic music, is a big part of what makes his heart beat. For him, being able to combine music and photography is a dream come true. Since November 2009 he has lived as a nomad. He was the former Head of IT in a Danish Government agency, but wanted to see new horizons and left Copenhagen and his job in 2009. He has been on the road for more than 7 years now, and is still wandering the world, although can usually be found in Copenhagen during the summer months, enjoying the music festivals. He is the author of the ebook GET IN THE LOOP – How To Make Great Music Images.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awe-inspiring. Heals. Home.

3 things Nature taught you?

I was born and brought up on a dairy farm, so here goes: Respect and love for our planet, nature and animals. Where I truly belong. And a cow standing on your 8 year old foot will not move and not care how much it hurts.

– oh as I started traveling, I learned a 4: Nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito!

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park, Utah, USA. Rottnest Island, Western Australia. My home country and landscapes of Himmerland, Denmark.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I was born on a farm, not near water so it used to make me feel great fear and a little bit drawn to it at the same time. Now that I learned how to swim and free-dive it still makes me feel fear – but now I want to go in it and explore!

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Peaceful, in a fairy tale, carrying mosquito repellent, afraid we will someday have no more forests.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I will let you know when I see one!

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I am not a morning person so sunrises are rare, unless they happen at 10am in the Scandinavian winter and I can have a coffee with it! Sunset makes me feel like bliss, like we are given a few minutes glimpse into a possible state of the world if we tried harder to protect nature, a few minutes where everything is alright.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Time to get the cows inside 🙂

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Cold. The wind is always cold in the Nordics.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Desert. I love wide open spaces.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10. My body couldn’t breathe without it. My soul couldn’t live without it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I used to take our dogs for long walks down the fields, just to be out there alone (featuring cows), in a wide open space feeling that everything is possible.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Kedyn Sierra

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-amKEDYN SIERRA is W.I.L.D.‘s 1st scholarship recipient. He is an Adventure & Commercial Photographer and Filmmaker, a proud brand ambassador for Guayaki Yerba Mate and sponsored photographer for SOG Knives, Kokatat, Klean Kanteen, Confluence among others. His work has been featured by DPR Construction, NOLS, Voltaic Systems, The Leader, National Geographic Student Expeditions, Environmental Traveling Companions, Klean Kanteen, Sierra Designs, and The Wild Image Project.

3 things Nature taught you?

Humbleness, responsibility, self-worth

3 most treasured Nature spots?

I met a weasel by a small creek in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, I feel absolutely upset that I can’t pinpoint it. The second spot is Raymond Lake on the PCT Trail. I’ve never felt utter pain and exhaustion from a hike so for that it takes second. The last place that comes to mind is Avalas Beach, a small patch where people can kayak into while on Tomales Bay. Avalas shows you the meeting point of the bay and the great pacific ocean.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I feel calmness from the tranquility of the water. I realize I am simply a piece to a greater magnificent piece of life.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

The forests make me feel immersed.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

When I saw a Volcano (sleeping volcano) I felt on top of the world. 360 view of the landscape definitely feels phenomenal.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I feel short on time. The minute the sun sets, the day has ended or begun depending on what’s happening. Sunrises make me appreciate everything because I rarely get to see those.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thunder makes me feel refreshed.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

When the wind howls it focuses me.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

A Forest person – conditions tend to be unfavorable in the Forest though it’s the only place you can truly feel the way everything is connected to one another.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

I would put a 10 to Nature for my well-being. Without it, I can’t seem to understand anything.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My family was born into a minimalist lifestyle in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula. I was raised around animals, cows, turkeys, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs amongst others. It wasn’t in a farm environment but rather heavy forest. The memory of the endless roaming with the imagination of a bliss kid was absolutely phenomenal and short lived.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ayelet Baron

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AYELET BARON is the visionary author behind Our Journey to Corporate Sanity: Transformational Stories from the Frontiers of 21st Century. Prior to being a speaker, coach, workshop facilitator, and committed to making a transformational impact on business, Baron was an Innovator-in-Residence in Roche/Genentech’s Strategic Innovation Product Development organization, and a Chief Strategy Officer for Cisco Canada.

3 words to describe Nature?

Humans. Grounding. Reality. We are nature; nature is grounding; nature ground us in reality.

3 things Nature taught you?  

To appreciate beauty as is. To recognize the life force in animals, plants and humans. To remember to follow nature in business – a time to plant, a time to water, a time to nurture and a time to harvest.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Diving in Fiji – the most spectacular underwater park; white sands of Turks and Caicos, and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?  

At peace. The whole experience of the beauty and infinity of the ocean from looking to listening to breathing it in is exhilarating.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

In awe imagining what the trees have witnessed while we simply pass by in a flash. The conversations they must be having must be incredible as they show us what a connected network truly is.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

The fire within each of us that can tip over at any moment and that emotions are natural if we allow them to be expressed

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

The cycle of life and death, with the depth of colors and opportunities

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

The power of nature to make a statement and bring clarity

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Alive and attune with reality

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean first but I love them all … what could be better than an ocean with a mountain, forest and/or desert? I have had the pleasure of experiencing many breathtaking combinations

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I will always remember the first time I walked through an orange orchard in Israel when I was 6 years old and got to pick oranges from the tree. That smell of the orange buds has stayed with me forever. Then, my grandfather retired and bought an almond orchard and as a kid, I spent hours peeling the two cases of almonds and organizing them in neat piles. It helped me appreciate the source of our nutrients and also sparked a love of creation with cooking naturally. I always need to know where the food we consume comes from in nature.

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Proust Nature Questionnaire- Connor Beaton

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CONNOR BEATON is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization focused on mens health, wellness, success and fulfillment. Connor is an international speaker, podcast host, Business Coach and lifestyle entrepreneur. Before founding ManTalks, Connor worked with Apple leading high performance sales and operations teams. Since founding ManTalks, Connor has spoken on stage at TEDx, taken ManTalks to over a dozen cities internationally and has been featured on platforms like HeForShe, The Good Men Project, UN Women, CBC, CNN, the National Post and more.

3 words to describe Nature?

Breathtaking, God, understanding.

3 things Nature taught you?

Resiliency, humility and the ability to be in the present.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The cliffs and beaches on the Amalfi coast in Italy, Camping at lake Garibaldi in BC & Secret Beach in Kauai, Hawaii

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Connected to myself, calm and at peace.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Strength and comfort simultaneously.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Powerful and in awe

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Humbled by life existence.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Somehow always surprised and reminded of how small we are.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Connected to everything

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Forest & ocean. I can’t choose just one. My favourite place to be is facing the forest with the ocean sounds at my back.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

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Proust Nature Questionnaire- Erick Tseng

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ERICK TSENG is a Product Director at Facebook where he oversees product management for the company’s global advertising growth and solutions. Erick joined Facebook in May 2010 as the Head of Mobile Products.

3 words to describe Nature?

Magical, beautiful, essential

3 things Nature taught you?

To take risks, how much beauty there is in the world, how fragile our existence is on this earth

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Yosemite, Galapagos, Himalayas

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Small

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Fresh

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Empowered

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Cold

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Traveling to a beach near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and going tide-pooling amongst the rocks. I loved looking for little fish, crabs, and mussels tucked away in the shallow waters. I’d also collect fresh seaweed, and my mother would clean it up, and cook seaweed pork soup that night. Delicious!

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Erick and his wife, Rachel, in Antarctica. In 2015

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Chip Conley

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At the end of the nineteenth century, a teenage Marcel Proust answered a series of questions in a confession album that belong to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure. The original manuscript of his answers, titled “by Marcel Proust himself” was discovered in 1924 and auctioned for €102,000 on May 27, 2003.

The format of the questionnaire has since became a popular reference when wanting to find out more about the personality of an interviewee. The questions have been used by French television host Bernard Pivot, James Lipton from the Actor’s Studio and the magazine Vanity Fair.

I decided to adapt the questions with the goal of finding out what Nature means to people.

Starting today, and for every Friday forward, I will be publishing the PROUST NATURE QUESTIONNAIRE.

To begin this new project, here is hospitality entrepreneur, bestselling author and TED Featured Speaker, Chip Conley.

Honored with the 2012 Pioneer Award – hospitality’s highest accolade – The San Francisco Business Times named Chip the Most Innovative CEO. He received his BA and MBA from Stanford University and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Psychology from Saybrook University. Chip served on the Glide Memorial Board for nearly a decade and received its Cecil Williams Legacy Award in 2015. He is now on the boards of the Burning Man Project and the Esalen Institute, where the Conley Bookstore opened in 2016.

3 words to describe Nature?

Spiritual, cleansing, awe-provoking

3 things Nature taught you? 

Animism: everything has spirit; there are forces way bigger than me; “discover the pace of nature”

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

A deserted beach in Baja, the Ventana wilderness in Big Sur, a quiet rice paddy field in Baja

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

The vastness: there’s so much above and below the surface to explore, I wish I had many lifetimes to do this

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Trees breathing with me and the phenomenally complex and beautiful eco-system

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Metaphor for powerful human emotions

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

The end is also the beginning

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

There is nowhere to hide

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

I’m reminded of the stunning scene in American Beauty when the two teenagers are staring at the video of the plastic bag in the wind…wind creates life

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

I can’t say I’m only one of these but if I had to choose one, it would be Ocean.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I remember staring at a live starfish on the beach I’d found and realized how much life was under the sea.

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New Beginnings

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In 1952, unusual circumstances came together and paralyzed one of the busiest cities of Europe. Heavy foggy days were no stranger to the residents of London, but on December 4th, the metropolis found itself suffocating, literally. An anticyclone landed on the region, bringing high pressure and causing temperature aversion. Cold air found itself trapped under a thick layer of warm air. Normally the winds would have pushed the system out, but this time they were simply no were to be found – the air was as stagnant as molasses. In the weeks prior to the event, cold weather had led the Londoners to burn a lot more coal that normally, increasing the presence of sulphur dioxide in the air. Added the carbon dioxide from vehicle exhausts and the hydrochloric acid and fluorine compounds from various industries, London quickly became engulfed within a lethargic yellow-black coloured concentrated acid haze. In the weeks that followed, around 4,000 people died. It is believed that as many as 12,000 fatalities might have been attributed to the “Great Smog of 1952”.

Each of us, at one point or another, have lived our own version of the “Great Smog”. It is not a feeling of being lost. It is rather a sense of powerlessness created by circumstances that are beyond your control. The ingredients you need to power your imagination, your body, or your drive, disappear. While yesterday you might have roam the land of creativity freely, today, your mind is shackled and focused on breaking away from the burden that has taken over.

Monet stopped painting for two years after his wife passed away. Picasso was so affected by the divorce from his first wife who took custody of their son and the birth of his daughter to a mistress that he no longer spent time in his studio.

These past twelve months for me will be known as my “Creative Great Smog”. Though I married the most amazing, awesome and phenomenal woman and found myself absolutely fulfilled when it comes to love and family, my creativity and career however can be summarized in two words – inertia and sluggish. A quick look at my blog and social media feed and the obvious is plain to see. Almost a year since the last entry. A little over eleven months of sparse and random posts. 338 days of stalled artistry, looking for inspiration and not finding it.

While the reasons for my disappearance are simple, the process of rebuilding took time and energy. Just like a tornado that destroyed your house, before you can start thinking of interior design and what will go on the walls, you first need to clear the rubble. Once the terrain is cleared, then it is time to rebuild the foundations. You need to reconnect the power and repair the sewer. You put the walls up and the roof over, but still, you are nowhere near inviting people over for dinner. Step by step, little by little, your new house takes shape. The furniture comes in and finally the sense of home returns. Soon, you start making phone calls inviting friends over. One evening, you find yourself sitting at the dining table surrounded by loved ones, your life filled with laughter and happiness once again.

Standing on the porch of my new house (conceptually speaking) on a beautiful morning, I am mentally shuffling through the events that took place under my previous roof. There are thousands and thousands of memories that I know now belong to a bygone era. The year 2016 was the end of a cycle, the epilogue of a book, the conclusion of an energy that started a long time ago.

Every end marks a new beginning

Watching the sun rise as a new day begins, I am pondering on the journey that lies ahead. My blank canvas is ready to be painted. My creativity is back and like a snake that has shed its old skin, my mind is clear and fresh, primed for a new adventure. There is so much to be grateful for, the most important being my wife. Yes! I am truly excited for the future.

This year, I commit to more writing, more public speaking, expanding my outreach and more art. There will be new expeditions and, of course, I invite you to come along and share with me this new voyage of discovery, growth and love.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.Joseph Campbell

Nature Meditation – CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN

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“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” Rene Daumal

The backpack sits heavy on my shoulders. In front of me the mountain stands tall. Beyond its peak, a cloudless sky foretells the added struggle the sun will bring to the ascent. It is amazing how something so desirable can become so detrimental. On any other day I would welcome this bright star shining down on me, but right now, my mind is filled with fantasies of giant clouds rolling in from beyond the horizon, spreading themselves over my head and taking away this sunny encumbrance. I close my eyes and dream of shade. Its cool and refreshing embrace which would boost my endurance and somehow magically make the load on my back much lighter.

I take a deep breath and murmur: “It is what it is! Tonight, I will be closer to the stars, sleeping at the summit, with a breathtaking view of the valley and a front row seat for sunrise tomorrow.”

The beginning is always treacherously easy. My body is full of energy and my mind swimming in optimism. The trail is wide and the inclination barely steeper than a regular hike. From down below, the climb appears as an imaginary line traced over a terrain that makes no difference between a solid slab of granite or a loose patch of igneous rocks.

Another deep breathe, another murmur: “It doesn’t look too difficult. It should take me about 3 hours”

In reality, as much as I want to believe I am in possession of all the information I need, as much as I want to predict the outcome, my knowledge and understanding of the endeavor is simply speculative. The truth is that I can only prepare myself for the expected and be ready for the unexpected.

Over the next 4 hours, I will trip twice. I will stop to rest more times than my pride wants to admit. I will wonder on several occasions why I thought it would be a good idea to go sleep at the top of the mountain. Five times I will look at my watch and ask myself how much longer is it going to take. In the last hour, my mind will repeat over and over: “Just one more step, I am almost there.” During the entire ascent, I will analyze mentally the content of my backpack, inside out, and wonder what gear I could have left behind to shed some weight, or what I could have done differently to alleviate the challenge.

But as I reach the summit, my sight is suddenly free to fly across the valley and my feeling of struggle disappears. Exhaustion and pain become something of the past, and all this released tension slingshots back, filling me with pure exhilaration and a deep sense of accomplishment. “I made it!” – a whisper escapes my lips.

Barely rested and refreshed, I look in all directions and rejoice at the view with all the new possibilities laid before my eyes. Today’s goal might have been about completing this ascent, but for my desire in seeking new experiences, it is only an episode. For my relentless curiosity and unwavering need to learn, today’s challenge was a simple lesson about myself and life.

This week, let us reflect on the places we want to go, the things we want to achieve, the goals we want to fulfill. Are we focused only on reaching these destinations or are we fully aware and connected with the process of moving forward. Are we open to the lessons and discoveries that will present themselves to us, in sometimes the most unexpected ways? Do we truly understand that these goals, these objectives, these places we want to go are only the gateway to other new adventures?

“For life–which is in any way worthy, is like ascending a mountain. When you have climbed to the first shoulder of the hill, you find another rise above you, and yet another peak, and the height to be achieved seems infinity: but you find as you ascend that the air becomes purer and more bracing, that the clouds gather more frequently below than above, that the sun is warmer than before and that you not only get a clearer view of Heaven, but that you gain a wider view of earth, and that your horizon is perpetually growing larger.” Endicott Peabody

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift, Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit

Nature Meditation – ONWARD FORWARD LET IT GO

meditation

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one” Michael McMillan

I would like to start this year with an excerpt from my book – FEEL THE WILD

After years living in New York City I was still trying to find my place, my tribe, my purpose. I worked in an office and performed a job I had no passion for. Day after day, I acted my way through the part, feeling as if I didn’t have enough to give to my work. And I didn’t. I wasn’t energized by my work; I was drained by it. Like a stabled horse, I wanted out. I needed to find that child within, to be alive once more. So I called it quits. 

I sold everything, bought a camera, and persuaded some companies to help fund my equipment. I took out a world map, put my finger on New York, and started moving south until I reached Patagonia. This land had been many things to many people. For Magellan and Drake, it was the land of giants. For Darwin, it was a place that would change his life. For French author and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Patagonia was his muse. And for writers Chatwin and Theroux, it was their salvation. For me, this vast land, these million square kilometers of mountains, rivers, canyons, steppes, ocean coasts, and unbelievable skies, would perhaps bring me back from the depths of unhappiness. Patagonia is where my story began.

I was standing on a beach at Punta Norte, on the Valdes Peninsula in the Chubut Province, a place famous for orcas that beach themselves to snatch young, careless sea lion pups. Looking out and watching black fins knifing the shallow waters, I unexpectedly started to feel like I was choking. I don’t know why. I can’t explain what happened to me. Instead of giving in to the anxiety of the moment, I gathered my wits and took a really deep breath. I felt the south wind pushing its way into me. This cold air had traveled north from Antarctica, passed Tierra del Fuego, followed the rugged coast of Argentina, and now settled into my lungs. And with this new breath of icy air came a release. It was as if I was taking my first breath. My lungs opened up, like the petals of a flower stretching out to receive all the light around it. And I felt a sudden awareness, as if I was unexpectedly waking up after decades of hibernation…”

The part missing from the text is that none of it happened the way I had planned. In fact my trip to Argentina was so ill prepared that I had to cancel my original plan. I had overestimated the challenges and ridiculously overpacked. To say that I was in over my head is an understatement. Facing my foolishness and immaturity, I surrendered to my predicament. Letting my pride take the back seat, I reassessed everything and improvised. Six months later, I emerged transformed.

None of my expeditions have happened the way I wanted. In fact barely anything in my life goes according to plan. But every time I find myself in the unexpected, I let go, adapt, learn, and grow stronger. The truth is that my most cherish possessions, my most beautiful discoveries, and my most precious friendships have all appeared from these dark places where I thought nothing was working.

On December 31st, I was listening to Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain, concluding the story “Life’s Many Codas: Maya Shankar’s Path From Juilliard To The White House

“… all of us have chapters in our lives that close and when they do, especially if it is a chapter that we have known and love for a long time, it can feel like the whole book is over, that there is nothing left to do, maybe even nothing left to live for. But I think each of us has stories in our lives that reflect the fact that the people we are today are not the same people we were only a few years ago. We often underestimate our capacity to reinvent ourselves… the things that distinguished humans from other species is our remarkable capacity to adapt to different conditions, differing situations… it isn’t about our physical abilities, it is really about the mind and each year around this time, we need to remind ourselves that when one door closes, we have the ability to find other doors to open…”

Whatever has happened to us last year, the year before, 10 years ago, or even as a child decades earlier, we must let go. The goal of the Past is to learn from it, not to hold on to it. What I wish for you in 2016 is to shed the old skin, to let go of the unnecessary, to release the burden, the guilt and these negative attachments and march ahead, chin up, and confident. We are alchemists, we have the ability to turn iron into gold, to grow from the most challenging and painful. We are resilient! Onward and Forward!

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit

 

Nature Meditation – SHADOWS

WIP_030609_Dreaming

“Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living.” Thomas Browne

There is only a sliver of the sun peaking above the crest of the mountains. For the past thirty minutes, I have been watching this disc of light descend, slowly closing the gap between itself and the horizon. Within the next seconds this star that illuminates the world around me will disappear, taking along with it, the light that dominates and structures our lives. Colors will fade; what used to be a dynamic world of hues will turn into a monotone landscape. I wonder if perhaps the reason why the sky becomes so colorful during sunrises and sunsets is because it shows the migration of Colors. These particles of light fly with the sun and bond themselves to anything that vibrates at the same frequency. In the morning, they precede the sun and announce the arrival of the day. In the evening, they are the last ones to leave, making us long for their return.

Behind me, my shadow grows. Seemingly alive, this imprint of myself, this silhouette of my existence, expands, reaches across the air, and spreads over the land. While my physical presence is trapped within the confines of this body, it is its  shadow that goes beyond and connects with the world. With the sun now gone, my shadow merges with all the others and together, immersed within Earth’s shady embrace, we become one.

The light is powerful. It gives us the ability to see and define our environment. It warms and protects us. It allows us to control our path. With it, we can plan, analyze, create, and build. Because of it, we can breathe and feed ourselves. But light also carries a burden. It isolates. It categorizes. Instead of unleashing our consciousness, it buries it under an sea of judgments. We might be living on a planet that is part of a vast Universe, but during the day, when we look up to the sky, we see none of our connection to the Beyond. What we see is a blanket of fluffiness, a blue cover that appeases and hypnotizes us. What we don’t see is our place amongst the stars. What we don’t see is the Truth.

It is only when stepping into the shadow of the Earth that the Universe is revealed.

In the shadows we might loose our sight, but we gain more intimate senses. Our hearing opens up. Our smell tunes in. Control gives way to intuition. Instead of going outward, we must journey inward. Instead of reaching out and introducing ourselves, we must become vulnerable and let the world in. In the darkness we process, contemplate, and dream; in the absence of light, all and everything is equal.

Today, technology is the light – our lives are defined by it. While there are amazing benefits to its capacity, we must remind ourselves that the beauty of our species and the Truth about Life does not reside under a microscope or laid out in an algorithm. Lovecompassionfriendship, and community live in this place called Intimacy; in the shadow of technology.

We must ask ourselves: do we want to live in an emotional arid world much like a desert where the sun destroys everything and where shade offers you life and a sanctuary? Or would we rather choose a world that nurtures both intimacy and technology, each valued and protected, not one at the expense of the other?

As the year ends, lets reflect on our own intimacy and what lies beyond ourselves. Do we seek the light and let technology govern our lives because we are afraid of facing our humanity? If the stars are only revealed at night, if the Milky Way can only be seen in the absence of light, how much of ourselves are we missing by avoiding our own shadows?

I wish you Merry Christmas, a wonderful Holiday season, and an amazing New Year.

Find your inner fire, don’t be afraid of being alone, get lost, see what you want to see, exist through others, roar like a lion, breathe the world in, find your balance, celebrate life, and be vulnerable.

I will see you back in 2016.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


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Nature Meditation – HYGGE

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Little Prince

There are thousands of them, sparks of ember rising from the fire and flying into the night sky. Their incandescence leaves traces against the darkness – erratic tapestry of temporary glowing streaks. My stare, previously locked on the burning logs, starts moving up. It picks up on a particular spark and follows it as it ascends and reaches to the stars. My imaginary mind can’t hold itself and creatively realizes that it has figured out where stars come from – millions of tiny embers from millions of campfires, over millions of years, that have flown high into the universe and settled. Once, these tiny Beings of Fire warmed our hearts, bodies, hands and skin; but now, hanging up above and out of reach, they warm our souls and make us dream about the infinite possibilities that lie beyond.

Around the campfire, friends are gathered. Through the grapevines, I hear many conversations. To my right, people are talking about the fish caught earlier, the same fish that we are now cooking on hot stones just inches away from the fire. There is a salty and crispy barbecue aroma lingering around that is tantalizing and torturing our hungry stomachs.

To my left, I can hear the excitement in recounting the day paddle of discovery, exploring two nearby bays – there was a great heron that was croaking at us, annoyed at having his secret stash of food disturbed. There was also the sight of a marauding mink, nearby rocks that were covered with seaweed and barnacles, sometimes going for a swim and diving for crabs. A family of deer grazing on a field, tucked between trees, was looking at us probably wondering why would any creature wear so many bright different colors and carry such a distinct plasticky scent.

In front of me across the fire, I can’t hear what the other people are talking about. I might not be able to hear their words but their bodies are speaking loud and clear. I can see the happiness on their faces. I see the glow of Life in their eyes. Their hands waving in the air with excitement.

For a minute, I contemplate at the impact fire has had on our evolution, not only transforming our eating habits, but also  – and I would argue even more importantly – transforming the way we interact. Beyond the purpose of hunting and security, it brought people together. Fire staged the birth for storytelling and laid the foundation to building communities. It created a place in time for people to bond, share, and connect. Here, in the outdoors, surrounded by a world that pre-existed me, I am connecting and bonding to my fellow humans and to nature in the same way that my ancestors did a million years ago.

The Danish have a word for the overall emotion that runs within my body: Hygge (pronounced ‘hYOOguh’), a deep satisfying state of well-being, a happiness that is rooted in being with others, enjoying life, living in the moment, eating, celebrating, and conversing. Looking around the campfire and seeing all of this love and happiness flowing, I come to understand how this word has become a cultural pride and the core of their identity.

Christmas and the holidays are a time to be Hygge. It is a time to stop and reconnect. A time to leave behind the worries and to celebrate life and the people that surround us.

This week, as we prepare ourselves to visit or receive our families and friends, lets take a moment to meditate on the joy and laughs these people have brought us, these memories of happiness that have happened over a good dinner or by a crackling fire in the chimney.

“Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen, Danish Author

Read more about Hygge on NPR or BBC

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


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Nature Meditation – TE NO UCHI

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

It is a stormy day. The winds are blowing hard from the Pacific. The sky, which was blue and limitless yesterday, is now obstructed by dark clouds that loom over my head in a threatening manner. The ocean, which was calm and smoothing only 12 hours ago, is now pounding on the rocks with fury and in a thunderous crash. Amidst this chaotic landscape, sea gulls and terns glide with ease; a tip of a wing there, and one bird zooms across only inches above a breaking wave. These creatures have truly mastered the art of moving through the air, riding the invisible currents with finesse and grace.

Far out in the open I noticed a cargo ship pushing its way through — probably heading for a long ocean crossing — delivering goods to Asia. This beast of steel is defying the elements. Its immense volume is keeping it afloat. At its stern under water and hidden away, petals of metal are propelling it forward, while at its bow, the hull is clashing with the waves; steel against water, solidity against fluidity!

While the cargo ship and sea birds couldn’t be more different and representing a total opposite philosophy of moving through life, the two are actually relying and operating on the exact same core fundamental “tension”. Neither would exist without it. The ship would sink. Its steel would liquefy. The bird would fall. Its feathers would disappear. It is tension that keeps them together. It is tension that makes them move.

Just like the tree that stands tall, the sail that holds the wind, the rock on which I am now sitting, the legs that carry me, the beating of my heart, the sound of my voice, the neurons firing in my brain, the light that comes in through my eyes, the caress of a lover, a helping hand, or even this planet that hosts me and this sun that warms me; each fundamentally exist out of tension, at an intersection, a place where a particular force ends and another begins.

Tension is Nature. It is Life. It is the DNA of everything that is. It creates energy. It is movement and resistance. It is creation and destruction. It is a pause through which life emerges. And the absence of it is Death.

Life is a dynamic journey filled with endless forces. Some of those you will see coming, others will leave you in shock. The goal is not to avoid the resulting tensions but rather to move with them, accept them, embrace them, flourish with them. Understand their necessity and power of transformation.

The Japanese have an expression – Te No Uchi, which originates from finding the perfect sword grip, one that is strong enough so that it can resist a blow, but light enough so that it can be agile and responsive. Today the words are used to express the mastery one has in maintaining the right amount of tension, independently of the forces at play.

This week, whether at work or while doing a headstand, lets take a moment to meditate on the tensions that surround us. Am I a bird? Moving with ease and grace, going with the flow, and using the least amount of energy. Or am I a cargo ship? Plowing my way through, strong and steady but demanding great effort. In this era of change, how can we maintain enough tension so that we can sustain any upcoming challenges while at the same time be flexible enough so that we don’t crack under pressure?

Stillness is not the absence of tensions but rather a harmony within them

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Nature Meditation – BREATHING IN, BREATHING OUT

“Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

My diaphragm contracts creating a vacuum within my lungs that sucks in the air, bringing in the molecules of oxygen on which my survival depends. These two organs, each the size of a football, protected under my rib cage, contain more than 1500 miles of airways. This intricate system of organic conduits in various sizes carries the Earth’s gas all the way to 700 million plus microscopic look alike broccoli head called alveoli. These anatomical structures, in turn, perform an action that has defined the very nature of life since the beginning of time: they take and give back. Oxygen is stripped away from the air, and carbon dioxide is returned. As my diaphragm relaxes, it forces the lungs to release a breath of equal proportion but now of a different composition. My exhale will feed a different kind of organism which will proceed in a reverse manner; delivering oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide.

The output of one is the input of another. And the output from the other is the very same input to the first one.

Every time I inhale, every time I exhale, I am reminded of my interdependence in a reciprocal cycle that has been going on for millions of years. Each molecule that enters my body, has been recycled billions of times, breathed in and breathed out by living and past species for eons, and will be for eons more.

My lungs are the embodiment of this reciprocity. Their main purpose is to connect me with the universe, and with nature. To take from it and give back. As much as one would want this to be a one-way relationship, it is simply impossible to exist without participating. Breathing in is taking from nature, and breathing out is giving back to nature. The more I breathe in, the more I breathe out. The more I take, the more I give back.

“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life — reciprocity.” Confucius

In our existence, if our bodies are a product of reciprocity, what then will happen if we isolate and disconnect ourselves from the natural world? If the brain has evolved in face of challenges to solve, if our capacity to learn exists only because of our necessity to adapt, then what will we become if we let technology do everything for us? If we forgo the sensuous realm of our senses, are we consequently setting the stage for their disappearance?

This week, lets meditate on our breath and its transcending dynamic. Let’s reflect on our senses and their reciprocal existence. Are we breathing in more than we are breathing out? Is it time for us to let go of our breathe and give back?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


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Nature Meditation – ARE YOU A CHEETAH OR A LION?

“… the speed is the problem because it prevents us from reflecting where we want to go and how we want to get there.” Christian Seelos, author of “Innovate and Scale: A Tough Balancing Act”

This animal is pure beauty! It is truly a phenomenal feat of Nature’s engineering. Everything in its body has evolved following one simple logic: how to maximize the intake while minimizing the losses, so that it can deliver the quickest and fastest output. Its large nostrils increase the oxygen flow. Its lungs and heart, size for size 3 1/2 times that of a lion, work together to move and process oxygen more quickly and efficiently. Its bones are light, legs are fine and elongated, chest deep and waist narrow. This creature’s entire anatomy is built around one purpose: powerful bursts of speed. Within 3 seconds, the cheetah can reach 60 mph (96 km/h). Its maximum speed is 75 mph (120 km/h), the fastest for any land animal. Watching this majestic Felinae in action, zooming across the savanna, leaves any witness stunned with admiration. Its delivery of power with such agility is simply magnificent.

But this evolutionary strategy has come at a tremendous cost. For the sake of speed, the cheetah has had to position itself into a survival niche that is extremely fragile, has little room for error and comes with serious side effects. Its hunting strategy, while quite extraordinary, can’t be sustained for very long. With so much energy focus on one prey, there isn’t much room left for plan B. Its compact and undersized muscle mass makes it hard for the cheetah to go after large prey, instead focusing on the smaller ones. When successful in its hunt, the wild cat is so tired that it has to wait up to 30 minutes before eating, putting itself at risk for other more powerful and opportunistic predators. Hunting at such speed also makes collaboration challenging so, consequently, most cheetah hunt alone. Sight is their predominant sense making them diurnal hunters – as scent is not the most efficient of senses at high speed. Finally, with all the energy in one basket, little is left to defend itself, so it is no surprise that the cheetah is the more productive breeder of all the big cats, counting on a high number of cubs to assure at least one survivor. Within the family of Felidae, the cheetah is the most vulnerable species and the least capable of adapting to new environments.

The lion, on the other hand, has opted for a more social and balanced strategy: social structure being at the core of their evolutionary survival. They are not the fastest runners but they can defend themselves. They often hunt alone but will gather in a large group when needed. When they do, their communal hunts are organized and strategic. Their sight, scent and hearing are equally sharp, giving them the advantage at night. Being social, lions are known for their wide range of communication. Not the best at one thing, but great at so many, it is no surprise that the lion is culturally known as the “King of the Jungle.”

The cheetah and lion’s comparison is greatly insightful when we apply it to our modern and post-industrial society. Technology is all about speed, innovating at an exponential pace leaving us in a constant state of catching up. Elevating the individual over the group, we feel isolated. We complain about having no time and convince ourselves we need to go faster, do everything faster and live faster. While the benefits of living such a life are enticing and exciting, we are putting ourselves into a vary narrow survival niche that has little room for error.

This week, let’s meditate on the pace on which we live our lives. Am I, are you, are we a Cheetah? Or a Lion? Do our values protect and nurture a slower, more balanced and social lifestyle? Or a lifestyle of individuality and speed at the expense of everything else?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


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Nature Meditation – UBUNTU

… a person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.” Desmond Tutu

Sitting on a log, with my head slightly tilted forward, I noticed an ant on the ground moving among the pine needles; the same needles that at some point resided on the tree. Once, they fed a wooded giant by collecting sunlight and capturing the air; now, they create an obstacle of monumental proportion to a species 2,000 times smaller than me.

The beauty in the moment was filled on a total different level; when alive and green, these coniferous leaves were the benefit of one organism; now dead and brown, they were finding a new purpose. Fallen and released from their host, their collective shear number covered the ground and acted as a blanket that kept the heat trapped under. The heat was necessary to energize the micro organisms that fed on organic matter, needles included. Decomposed and turned into nutrients, these needles were now feeding the soil, the same soil in which the tree was rooted, the same soil from which the tree fed itself from.

Nature is an endless cycle of dependency and duality: the needles wouldn’t exist without the tree and the tree wouldn’t exist without the needles. The soil wouldn’t exist without the trees and the trees wouldn’t exist without the soil. Nothing in the world exists by itself, everything and everyone “is” because of its relationship to another, or to others. This understanding of life is at the core of the South African philosophy, Ubuntu – “I am because of You”, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

While it’s true that Africa is a harsh place, I also know it to be a place whose people, animals and ecosystems teach us about a more interconnected world…” Boyd Varty

It is hard to look at what happened in Paris last week and see that our lives are not only deeply connected to the ones who perished in the event but also to the ones who committed the crimes. Without taking away the severity of the atrocity perpetrated mercilessly, we must surrender to the reality that these actions happened only because they are part of a bigger, connected, and an unfortunate vicious cycle, one in which we all participate.

“You are who you are because of me.” “They are who they are because of us.” 

Understanding the reciprocity of life is crucial if we wish to learn how to prevent future condemnable acts of extreme violence. And the place to start is within ourselves. This week, lets meditate on the past, moments in our lives where we felt attacked, disrespected, or accused; moments of anger, frustration and impatience. If the world is in reciprocity with who I am, if my surroundings is a mirror to my being, am I then a source of love and compassion? Am I inviting kindness and forgiveness or am I creating the exact monster I am now battling?

“So Ubuntu — for us it means that the world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at other people’s expense.” Bill Clinton

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 
PELICANS & CALLIGGRAPHY.
Baja California, Mexico
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography Montage
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

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FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

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190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

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Smart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

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Desktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

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A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

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Nature Meditation – SEEING WHAT WE WANT TO SEE

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”Arthur Schopenhauer

I am standing atop a mountain, looking out, mesmerized. The landscape upon which my eyes are feasting is an  intense dynamic sea of clouds. There are clouds below  in the valley rising up, as if the ground was boiling. There are clouds above in the sky that grow exponentially and create an unexpected optical illusion, like fractals  expanding continuously, yet occupying the same space. Then there are clouds in front of me, blanketing the horizon, covering the slopes of countless mountains, their peaks appearing and disappearing like floating islands playing hide and seek in an ocean of cotton balls.

Staring and contemplating, I am reminded of the fog in San Francisco, a living entity that rolls over the hills, blown from the Pacific and playing tricks on the Bay’s inhabitants. Its magical powers are undeniably formidable. Its mastery in the art of illusion is irrefutable. Some days, it manages to make the entire Golden Gate Bridge disappear. On other days, it hides the city of San Francisco, one of America’s largest cities, behind such a thick opaque white curtain that for anyone sitting on the shores of Marin County or Berkeley, nothing can be seen except for a giant wall of nothingness.

On such a day, imagine what it would mean if you knew nothing of this area. Passing by, driving north or south on Highway 80, your experience of this location would be reduced to seeing a seemingly boring landscape, nothing more than a white horizontal veil spreading in all directions. When in fact, behind the fog lies one of the most powerful and iconic cities in the world.

Every time I see clouds, or fog, I think about all the treasures, worlds of wonder, truths and realities that remain hidden, away from our existence, away from our consciousness. Not because they are unreachable and unattainable, but only because we let ourselves be blinded by something that is nothing more than a smoke screen. Over the course of my life; through my ups and downs, successes and failures, gains and losses, I have come to understand how this insight from nature is at the core of my life journey and the foundation to my happy life. What we choose to believe, what we choose to see and hear, is only a perspective of a much bigger reality. A perspective that is defined by our chosen beliefs, values, and fears. In other words, what we see is what we want to see. We believe what we want to believe.

Yet these narratives we create are like the clouds that magically take away mountains, bridges, and cities from our visual realm. The limitations and boundaries we perceive are nothing more than an illusion, a perspective relative to a wide range of pre-conceived notions.

When I look up to the sky, I see the clouds that hide the blue atmosphere behind. When I do see the blue sky, I am blinded of the Universe that lays beyond. At night, when I look up and marvel at the sky saturated with stars, the gargantuan and unimaginable world of wonders that exist beyond, outside of our realm of comprehension, still remains hidden to me. When I look at someone, despite being able to see them, touch them, and feel them, what is inside of them, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually is a complete mystery.

This week, meditate on what you believe in; these narratives that have come to define your life. Are they limiting your capacity for a much greater and happierlife? Are they expanding your consciousness? Are they hiding you from a world where love and compassion prevail? Are you ready to bear straight ahead, seeking what lies in and beyond the fog?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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SHEEP. Taken in Santa Cruz, Patagonia, Argentina.
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

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Nature Meditation – GETTING LOST

“ “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau

The irony of the situation is hard to miss. This week’s meditation theme is about “getting lost” and here I am, writing these lines, lost in a world of in-between, in an unwanted place, away from my tribe, struggling to find my bearing. Yesterday, my life was structured and somewhat stable; I had plans, a schedule, confirmed engagements, and I had just celebrated the passing of a major personal milestone. And today, well, all the cards have been thrown up in the air and where they will fall is still unknown. Hours ago, my compass was bearing straight ahead, steady and holding course; now I look at the needle and it is pointing to all directions, going everywhere but the place where I want to go, leaving me in a twilight zone of torment.

How many times have, each one of us, felt this way? How many times have we faced uncertainty, the feeling of powerlessness creeping from the inner depth of our insecurity? In all my years of solo wilderness expeditions and in my personal life, I have always been able to look back at those moments of feeling lost, and, with the acquired wisdom, to see how positively transforming those truly unfortunate events turned out to be; how much I grew personally and spiritually. Despite knowing in my core that it was going to be ok, that I would make it through, I had been there before and that I had all the tools and capacity to find my way again, this chaotic present is still a burden of monumental proportion. And that is ok.

Erika Harris has a wonderful quote: “It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.

Besides reaffirming our sense of belonging, these forced detours are always filled with treasures, if only we let ourselves be open to being able to see them. I have lost count of the times when I have found the most beautiful places, met the most amazing people, lived the most incredible moments, and discovered my most cherished possessions, more often after finding myself lost and surrendering to the moment, letting the flow of life carry me, and my intuitions guide me.

There is an undeniable sadness and anxiety when faced with uncertainty. Let’s be honest, who really takes complete pleasure in being at a point in time and space that seems to be disconnected from everything? A location that has no name, no clear direction, no obvious way out? Should I go this way? Or that way? What if the solutions are in the opposite direction? Am I making things worse? Am I walking towards a precipice or closer to home? The answers, as distant as they may seem, reside inside of us, inside our “inner fire”, that place made of energy which is connected to everything and everyone. It is that place that feeds our intuition, that whisper which only wants to protect us. My fears and doubts will often be the loudest and quickest to react, urging me to flee and find shelter. But in those moments where my sense of orientation disappears, the bearing to find my way through the heavy fog, the path that will take me back home, the clarity that will illuminate my world once again and lift away that opaque shroud, all appear when I surrender and open myself first. The key is to accept the predicament and understand that I have no power over the past but I do hold the keys to the future.

Meditate on the times in your life where you’ve lost yourself not to the events, but to your fears and doubts. In the future how can you make sure not to give in to these negative feelings? We all get lost from time to time, it is an inevitable part of life. But whether these moments make us grow spiritually, happier, wiser, and richer, is within our control.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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Kayak Triptych. Taken in Baja California and Alaska. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

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Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 26/27/28 – 12 places left!

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

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Nature Meditation – ALONE ISN’T LONELY

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No man (or woman) should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself (herself) depending solely on himself (herself) and thereby learning his (her) true and hidden strength.” Jack Kerouac

My childhood memories are vague and distant, like glimpses of a movie played behind a smoke screen. When I look at photos from my past, my brain is able to recognize what they represent; it recognizes the places where they were taken, it recognizes the people it sees. But beyond that, the images seem strange, disconnected, and impersonal. I can’t seem to be able to attach a feeling that ties me to that moment; I look at my younger self captured in a picture, a place in time that I can confirm and remember, but I have no emotional memory of being there. I want to remember the specifics, but for some reason, my past has become a timeline divided in themes, periods defined by an emotion that summarizes those particular years, thousands of memories put together, merged into a single block and stamped with a single word, an emotion that overrides all the others. Of those themes, the emotion that stands out is loneliness.

My life was for a very long time filled with a feeling of loneliness. For decades, I didn’t know where I belonged. My parents moved a lot. By the age of 12, I had already moved 10 times. With every move, I had to leave behind whatever world I had been able to create with the limited time that I had been given, and focus on recreating a sense of belonging to wherever I was then finding myself. Houses changed; friendships vanished as quickly as they were born; cities became backdrops for momentary plays. While the world around me was in constant motion, sweeping away any hint of foundation that I was trying to build for myself, one place remained constant and offered me salvation, peace, and a purpose ⎯ nature. Everywhere we moved, there was always a local park, a forest where I could roam and get lost; trees I could climb, creeks I could explore, dirt I could dig in. That loneliness that dominated my world was nowhere to be found the minute I stepped into the wilderness. There ⎯ in this world of silence ⎯ I found solace. I was alone but I was connected; I felt part of something that was bigger than me. Within that silence, I found comfort; within those trees, I found a tribe that listened; within nature I found the family I was looking for, the structure of values and insights that would teach me about life, about what it is to be human, and what is like to live on this planet.  That deep connectedness has never left me since, I carry it with me everywhere I go, where ever I find myself, whether I am alone or not.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

The irony of our time is that despite being constantly connected and surrounded, actually never really being “alone”, there is a deep loneliness that permeates our lives. It is a loneliness that is overshadowed by pride; a pride that isolates us and infringes on our need to deeply connect; a pride that is based on the fear of facing our inner silence and solitude; a vulnerable and intimate place where the beauty of being human is revealed.

Face the silenceembrace your solitudecelebrate your vulnerabilityconnect with the beyond (whatever that may be for you), and find the lightwithin and around you.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%
Patagonian Winter. Taken in the Province of Santa Cruz in Argentina. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

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NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 26/27/28 – 12 places left!

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

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HALLOWEEN SALE!

Several prints are currently exhibited at CIBO, in Sausalito, California. For anyone who walks into CIBOand emails the password “Pumpkin”, standing in front of their print of choice, will receive a 20% discount.

And don’t forget to taste their coffee!!! It is a MUST!

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Nature Meditation – INNER FIRE

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“When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.” Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)

I am sitting in front of a campfire, staring. My eyes are locked onto an invisible place just above the burning logs. My mind is lost with wonder, mesmerized by this magical display of nature. Of all the Fundamental Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water), Fire is the only one that has the power to molecularly transform the nature of things. It is the only one that doesn’t exist unless it is created. It is the only one that consumes so that it can live. Its benefits emerge only when it is controlled and contained. Left to its own devices, it grows, spreads, ravages, and consumes. It is a power that can bring lost ones back to safety yet it can turn to ashes the biggest of castles. Since the beginning of time, its flames have inspired and terrified, cleansed and scorched, built and destroyed. It is easy to understand why in Hindu mythology, the the God of Fire, Agni, represents the essential energy of life in the universe.

And this essential energy is within ourselves too – our Inner Fire.

The People of Tibet believe that Tummo (translation for inner fire) truly exist and can be controlled through a breathing meditation – a practice that increases and manipulates the body’s temperature. That fire is said to live within, below the navel chakra. A fact that even our science-based culture recognizes daily without always realizing it. The expression “Fire in the Belly” is more than having ambition, stamina, vigor, and passion, it is that primal energy that fuels everything. By connecting with our Tummo, by meditating on our Inner Fire, one can activate its power of transformation. As our flame grows and expands, it rises and spreads, reaching throughout all other chakras, cleansing our body from all energy blockages, warming our hearts and bringing along love and compassion. But as with the element of Fire, our Inner Fire demands balance and control. Too much Fire within and we are over reaching, if it is always on, our body dries up and our mind burns away. If we don’t have enough then we lack the desire to move, live and stand up for our beliefs.

How is your Inner Fire? Is it flowing? Raging? Dormant? Is it leading you to safety or burning your castle? Is it inspiring you or terrifying you? Is it cleansing you or scorching you? Building or destroying? Take a moment to STOP BREATHE RELAX and LISTEN to your Tummo, what is it telling you?


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%
A beautiful triptych from the new FLAMES series, created while at SUMMIT Powder Mountain. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

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NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 19/20/21 – 12 places left!

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NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

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HALLOWEEN SALE!

Several prints are currently exhibited at CIBO, in Sausalito, California. For anyone who walks into CIBOand emails the password “Pumpkin”, standing in front of their print of choice, will receive a 20% discount.

And don’t forget to taste there coffee!!! It is a MUST!

BUY NOW

Cibo

Magical Sea Cave

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Part of upcoming story written for SIDETRACKED magazine

After five hours of smooth paddling, a couple of dolphin pod encounters, and several mobula ray breaches, I rounded the north end of the island and started looking for my next campsite. San Marcos, an island in the Gulf of California, off the Baja Peninsula’s Santa Rosalia, has plenty of beaches where I could land. Inexplicably, as I was paddling toward a desirable looking spot, my attention was pulled to the end of a giant rock formation where a tiny beach on the side of it was partially exposed. At first glance, there was no justification for me to explore this beach. It didn’t even look big enough for a camping site, but a little voice inside my head kept whispering that it might be something special. As a longtime solo traveler, I have learned the value of gut feelings, about the importance of listening to the intangible, about believing and accepting the signs when the world speaks to us. So without much mental resistance, I shifted my weight and edged the kayak on its right side, stroked hard with my paddle, and turned left. Little did I know what treasures lay just ahead.

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Gliding around the edge of the rock formation, my first glimpse of the hidden beauty behind it came at the very last moment when the tip of my kayak reached the beach. The back side of the rock revealed itself to be a remnant of a sea cave, a sort of half-shell amphitheater that faced the beach and sheltered a tiny lagoon filled with water that flowed in from the sea through a small porthole in the back of the cave. At the center of the lagoon, where the half-cave’s roof gave way to the sky, was a boulder surrounded by water at high tide. The boulder acted as a focal point, collecting the energy that seemed to bounce from every angle of the cave’s walls. The force was seriously strong in this place. No wonder it had called me, pulling me away from my trajectory. This cave was like a magical giant planet with its own gravity. Perhaps a portal to another world? My stay there would lead me to believe that yes, indeed it was.

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After setting up camp on the beach, I put on my fins, snorkel, and wetsuit, grabbed my spear gun, and went fishing. Stepping into the water, I walked knee-deep into the lagoon toward the porthole. I took a deep breath, dove, swam out into the sea, and entered a world full of fish and wonders. An hour later I was back with my meal, a large smile on my face and a blue mind of enchantment that comes from being in the water. I was at peace after spending so many minutes holding my breath, 20 feet deep, mesmerised by the life swimming around me.

At day’s end, the wind was nowhere to be seen or heard. Everything was quiet; even the birds that had so far chirped without a break. The gulls stood in silence, each balancing on one leg on the rock and on the beach. A deep stillness permeated the air, as if time had slowed down. It was similar to the excited feeling I get before something grand happens, in that precise moment before the show starts, before the curtain rises, when everybody stops and directs their attention to the stage, waiting for the magic to appear. I felt my attention drawn to the middle of the cave, onto that boulder surrounded by water. I walked to a rock near the beach, faced the cave, and sat. Taking a deep breath, I felt my energy spreading outward. Interestingly, it didn’t feel like my energy was escaping, but instead stretching far and connecting with every other molecule that surrounded me—the rocks, the animals, the water, the wind. Closing my eyes I could see the giant web that was being formed. It reminded me of the neural patterns in the brain, the filaments that stretch in all directions, connecting, transmitting, unifying, constantly evolving.

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As if on cue, two things happened at once. The small cave entrance that squeezed between the water and the rock lit up with a burning glow like a mini-sun, radiating with such intensity that for a second I had to cover my eyes. The sunbeam was in perfect alignment with the arched porthole, and the water acted as a giant reflector, focusing the light into one small opening and blasting it to the other side. It was as if I was
witnessing the birth of a star.

The tide had reached a height where even a little ripple, the tiniest of movements on the surface of the water, pushed enough air through the cave’s hollows to create a gurgling sound that felt like an ancient language. The spirit of the cave was talking. This elder of ancient times had awakened and was sharing its wisdom. It was a privilege being here amongst the birds, the rocks, the water, and the wind. But unlike the powerful things that surrounded me, I was only a guest, a passerby, someone whose species has disconnected from the magical thousands of years ago and has since stopped seeing what is now un-seeable.

At this moment, in this place, I was the one who felt primitive, simple, lacking depth and unable to understand the grandeur and connectivity of the universe, of life. Staring at the water, listening to the cave, feeling the silence around and in me, I realised that it was our species that needed saving, not the other way around. My eyes were not seeing a world where humans were the chosen ones and stewards of this planet, but rather that we were the ones who needed to be brought back home, from the darkness, returned to a world of love, compassion, and humility.

The serenity of this place convinced me to extend my stay—certainly not one of my hardest decisions. For another day I fished, read, relaxed, listened, and soaked in the energy that was offered to me. The following morning, after packing and tucking myself into the kayak, I took one last moment to reflect. Dipping my hands in the water and closing my eyes, I thanked the cave and promised to return—but I would bring others so they too can know its marvels.

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“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” Ray Bradbury

My friend is standing in front of me, her head stuck looking down. Her thumb has been scrolling endlessly over the glass of her smartphone for several minutes. Sometimes, she stops the motion and looks carefully at the thumbnails, then starts scrolling again. “It is somewhere, I know it is. Wait! Here it is! No! It is not this one” She says. Somewhere buried amongst thousands of other photos, there is one she has been wanting to share with me, a photo that captured a special moment, something beautiful. Feeling the weight of the endless search, she sighs and concludes, defeated: “Anyway, I swear it was so beautiful… I just wished I would have been able to show you.”

Not a week goes by without someone wanting to share with me the photos they love and most of the time, the moment is ruined by their failure in finding the pictures that mirror their memory or the intimidating challenge of suddenly having to choose the right one amongst a series of simile photos, just slightly different from one another, while I wait in front of them, my eyes wandering, looking for distraction as the minute pass.

The world of photography has changed a lot since the days of film. Back then, the craft was expensive and time consuming. Every time you pressed the shutter, you were mindful of the outcome, both financially and in the amount of work needed. Space was also very limited. Film rolls contained at the maximum 36 photos and the amount of rolls one would or could carry was depending on the level of trouble you would want to go through. Once the pictures developed, they would be manually put, one by one, into an album. By doing this, by actively participating into the creative process and development of the narrative, people took ownership of the stories they wanted to tell. There was always a certain pride in opening an album and showing it to a friend or a family member. And for those friends or family, the experience was memorable and personal. These stories were crafted with time and commitment. Each photo placed with care and thoughtfully. The order far from being random, the creator of the album had set each photo with the intent of telling a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Today, the picture is quite different!

Technology has conquered the limitations we once faced. But with this new reality came a world a new problems.

Our capacity to create without any limit has rendered us prisoners of our own creations. We don’t own our photos anymore, they own us.

When I am asked what is the best advice for doing photography, my answer is always the same – learn to DELETE FIRST. As much as we are privileged, living with tools that give us so much freedom to experiment, that freedom quickly disappears if we are not able to delete the junk – and yes junk it is!

Learning to delete is to my opinion the greatest challenge and most necessary skill today’s photographers must develop. And since we are all photographers now (amateurs and professionals) that means that everyone should learn to delete.

Deleting photos is more than making room in your library, it is an empowering skill and a crucial tool in developing your craft. By deleting the ones you don’t like, you start to discover what you like. You start taking ownership of your photos. And with ownership comes pride. And with pride comes value. Instead of being passive, you become an active participant in the art of telling stories. Instead of letting the photos dictate your narrative, you create the narrative.

Recently, well-known photographer and an early Instagram fan, Richard Koci Hernandez, announced he was deleting all of his pictures from the photo-sharing service. Talking to Chris O’Brien at Venture Beat, Richard stated that:

“I’ve always felt that a photograph deserves a life span. Nothing should live forever… my ‘photo stream’ has recently seemed less like a stream and more like a dammed-up river. I know this all sounds very heady, but I’ve been thinking that the Internet doesn’t respect time in the way that I think it should. Especially in relation to photographs. I’ve always thought that the institution of an art gallery was a satisfying way to experience work. And recently my Instagram account has felt like an exhibition of work that is always on display, the doors are always open 24/7, and that dismayed me a bit.

Think about it. If you love someone’s work and a local gallery puts on an exhibition, there is an excitement — you attend the exhibition and potentially you take away a print, a book, or a poster, and there is a sense of having had an experience and finality once the show ends and moves on. I desperately wanted my work on Instagram to have that same quality. Simply put, I’m saying that the current exhibition is over and it’s time to hang a new show. On another note, because of the seemingly permanent nature of an online photo gallery, I didn’t want everything I’ve ever done always on display. Some of the work that I’ve posted isn’t as mature as I’d like it to be, and it deserves to be forgotten.

Deleting these images gives me a sense of freedom, of potentially shedding an old skin and developing a new one. It’s very liberating. I’ve taken this idea to the extreme and many of my close friends and in particular my wife have had to prevent me from permanently deleting the original files themselves.

If I had my way, I’d pore through the work, find my favorites, print them out, and put them in a box, then I’d delete all the originals. In this flood of digital photographs, in an era where nothing seems special or sacred, I love the idea of scarcity. In a funny way, it’s just another version of Snapchat.”

Richard brings forth two very important points: the space to create and the value of a photo.

So the question begs to be asked. What is the value of our photos today? How much do we truly value the moments we try so hard to capture and record? Do we really honor those precious episodes by dumping our photos into a virtual cumulative album that has no narrative, no order, other than the dates they were taken. What is to say about our relationship with our photos when we fail at finding them or lose the expected joy by facing too many of the same?

Barry Schwartz in his TED talk “On the paradox of choice” presented to the audience his belief that today’s abundance infringes us rather than liberating us.

“It produces paralysis rather than liberation… With so many options to choose from people find it very difficult to choose at all… Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice we end up less satisfy with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from…”

And I believe that the great irony of our time is that our photos have become ephemeral but not because there existence is limited, but because their value disappears, despite of their existence. By taking so many photos and failing to keep only the good ones, we have lost the ownership of the moments we are precisely trying to own.

Learning to delete our photos therefore is necessary to give our power of creativity room to grow and to return the value and respect to our captured moments.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” 

― Thich Nhat Hạnh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

 

Yerba Mate – more than drink

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I am standing in the kitchen looking out through the window. I am doing a ritual that has now become a daily morning routine. While the water is warming up on the stove, I pour loose yerba into a gourd, cover the top with my hand, turn the gourd upside down and gently shake it several times. The goal is to bring to the surface the “Polvo” (powder). Then I pour a little bit of cold water on one side, not too much, just enough to soak the leaves and keep the other side dry. As an old man said to me once: “You are not simply pouring water, you are feeding the yerba so that it can breathe”. Just before the kettle sings and the water boils, I turn off the stove. I take the kettle and delicately tilt it until water starts pouring out and into the gourd. It is really important not to use boiling water when preparing Mate. Too hot and the leaves will burn. Too cold and they will shrivel. You want the water to be just hot enough so that it incites the precious leaves to release their elixir.

According to the Guarani legend, the Goddesses of the Moon and the Cloud came to the Earth one day to visit it but they instead found a Yaguareté (a jaguar) that was going to attack them. An old man saved them, and, in compensation, the Goddesses gave the old man a new kind of plant, from which he could prepare a “drink of friendship”.

Mate is more than a drink. Comparing it to tea or coffee would be a huge understatement, it would be an insult. It is more like wine. It is a lifestyle statement. One that says time and relationships matter. One that says speed and singularity are not a priority. It is a ritual that invites for sharing and trust. A reminder from the Native Cultures passing the pipe around, as a sign of welcome and humility. It is a ceremony that invites strangers and solidifies friendships. When offered to you, it is the deepest and most sincere gesture of hospitality.

Taking a deep breath, I let the woody toasty aroma fill my nose. A strong yet delicate fragrance with a hint of fresh grass, tinged with roasted nuts. My memory neurons automatically recognize the scent and send me mind back in time, to that place in the jungle, where the soil is red and the trees are tall and green. Where the monkeys howl and the jaguar roams stealthily – the birth place of Yerba Mate, the land of the Guarani People. Sipping on the bombilla, I bring the water to my lips. My tasting buds delightfully connect with the ancestral tea. Its potent tonic spreads through my bloodstream and invades my body, charging my senses.

Drinking Mate connects me to an old ritual that was born from a culture that believes nature is something bigger than them. Today, living in a world of conveniency and technology, I need those moments to remind myself of the things that truly mater: friendship, hospitality, taking the time to be in the moment and cherishing the simplest things.

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SPRING NEWSLETTER

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“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

Spring – the time of the year that is synonymous with new beginnings. Trees that have been dormant for months start coming to life. Minute by minute, the sun stays longer every day, finally pushing our dark evenings away. The air is getting warmer. This warmth is fueling this increase of energy we feel everywhere. The other animals sense it too. Our bodies are becoming more active, itching to return to the open landscapes. It is the call of the Wild, reaching out into the depth of our unconscious and connecting with the ancestral bond we share with the planet and with the natural world.


FUJIFILM

I am extremely proud and honored to announce that I am now a FUJIFILM X-Photographer. It is not everyday that one of the most recognized photography brands in the world decides to include you in its team of “Expert Photographers“.

I have been using the X-T1 and you can read below my testimonial.

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“The XT-1 is my new weapon of choice. It is everything I need and much more. Having used DSLR for many years, I had always felt that going more compact and opting for the benefits of mirrorless cameras meant loosing in quality and capacities. But those days are now gone and over with. The XT-1 is the future, my future! It gives me the power of technology in a camera I have no worries taking it along with me either while kayaking the burning hot Sea of Cortez, backpacking the wet and windy spring days of British Columbia, or biking the cold winter wilderness of Alaska.

Also really important, I never feel physically disconnected from the process of photography – which is something that is happening today because of technology – you gain new advantages while loosing connection. The XT-1 is the opposite. Its simplicity and its tactile controls connect me with my art, with the photos. I feel in control, not controlled and dependent of a machine.

The XT-1 is a no fuss, extremely powerful, weatherproof and compact wonder! And it is the only one I carry with me.”


WILD FOUNDATION

The WILD Foundation has been at the heart of the global wilderness community for over 40 years. It is the founder and steward of the World Wilderness Congress, the world’s longest–running, public, international conservation program.

Starting in June, I will be joining their Marine Wilderness 10+10 Project as LEAD WILD EXPLORER. Together, and with other organizations, we will work at preserving the wilderness values of a targeted selection of regions around the world.

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“Daniel brings to us the wild tales of the ocean we need to help a variety of stakeholders envision the values they commonly hold – ‘marine wilderness,’ which benefits communities, fishers, recreationists, tourists and all of us.” Julie Anton Randall, Vice President for Programs, The WILD Foundation


W.I.L.D. SCHOLARSHIP

W.I.L.D. (Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discovery) believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology. Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, W.I.L.D.‘s initial effort is targeted on giving youth, especially under-privileged teens, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps.

Originally, the funds raised during the first  W.I.L.D. campaign were just enough to support only one teenager but thanks to N.O.L.S., their scholarship program decided to get involved and matched the donations. Making it possible to fund 2 teenagers instead of one.

So it is with great pleasure that I am announcing the first 2 W.I.L.D. Scholarship recipients, Gavrielle Thompson and Kedyn Sierra.

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Both Gavrielle and Kedyn have been previously involved with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions). Their applications clearly illustrated their passion for the outdoors and their deep desire to experience and learn from being immersed in nature. As part of their adventure, they will be documenting their journey and sharing their discoveries.  Look forward to their report later this fall.

For their month-long sea kayaking wilderness camp in Alaska this summer, Kedyn & Gavrielle will be geared up by Sierra Designs,  Kokatat,  Mountain KhakisMiirIcebreaker,  Aquapac,  Deuters,  Confluence Outdoors,  Rocky S2V,  Guayaki,  Optimus Stove and Smith Optics.

A huge thank you to everyone for your support!


BAJA CALIFORNIA

I recently spent 2 months in Baja California where I paddled around Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Tortuga. While Santo is a famous island close to LaPaz featuring incredible landscapes, Tortuga is a remote volcanic crater 20 miles offshore only visited by fishermen. You can see the recap of the two expeditions on PINTEREST and the MINUTE OF NATURE videos filmed on location here.

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Whale shark outside LaPaz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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The Tortuga Rattlesnake, a species endemic to the island.

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Campsite on Isla Espiritu Santo


STORIES

From the blog – 3 new stories were added: an encounter with a black bear, the insights received during a paddle in Baja, and the challenges explorers face when they come back home after traveling for so long.

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THE POWER OF THE VOICE

The black bear stood tall, mounted on his hind legs, only 15 feet away from me. Its nose was covered with long grey hair, some remnants of a deer carcass it was just feeding on. Its front paw claws hung in front of him while the ones on its back paws were firmly dug into the ground… READ MORE

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SOLITUDE + SILENCE = CLARITY & PERSPECTIVE

The beach was made of this creamy white sand – powdery granules made of crushed shells and limestone eroded over millions of years, moved with the tides, currents and wind, slowly and gradually pushed back against the shore, grain after grain, and now forming the soft cushion I was resting on… READ MORE

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A CHALLENGING RETURN

The road is my home. It is where I feel alive. It is where I breathe and nourish myself. The road feeds my craving for discovery. It calms my restless mind hungry for new experiences. My dreams are blank canvases that paint themselves as I move forward towards new destinations. I am like a mountain river that needs the movement to fill itself with air… READ MORE


PUBLIC SPEAKING

The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 was marked by several public speaking engagements with presentations at REI stores throughout the Bay Area, at the San Francisco State University and at the well known Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Dates and locations for future events will be announced this summer as the schedule for Fall 2015 / Winter 2016 is being confirmed.

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FEEL THE WILD – BOOK

My new book – FEEL THE WILD, is in the works and the first Draft Edition will be ready for the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show this August. With close to 200 pages, the book is a collection of stunning photography, inspirational stories and new material.

If you want to be notified when the book becomes available please click this link

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ONLINE STORE

We are getting closer to the online store being operational. Products from Icebreaker, Miir and Mountain Khakis will feature the FEEL THE WILD & THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT branding. Products so far being offered will include: Coffee Mugs, Merino t-shirts, Neoskin journals, Growlers, Tote Bags, Insulated bottles, Water bottles, Greeting cards and prints.

If you want to be notified when the merchandise becomes available please click this link

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MEDIA

See below a recap of some of the major media coverage recently published. I would like to thank the publications and magazines for believing that my work is newsworthy. Click on the image to access the article.

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WHAT’S NEXT

Plans are always the most complicated and challenging reality I have to face, as they constantly change. Right now, I am heading to British Columbia where I plan on biking and padding the Canadian Wilderness for the next 2 months. With nothing set in stone, the best way to keep in touch with my adventures is through my social media – which you can access by clicking the icons below. If you hear that I am passing through your neighborhood, don’t hesitate and reach out, it is always a pleasure to connect and share stories.

WebsiteWebsiteFacebookFacebookTwitterTwitterInstagramInstagramPinterestPinterestLinkedInLinkedInGoogle PlusGoogle Plus

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May the Wilderness Be with You.

STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

S2 = C + P

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The beach was made of this creamy white sand – powdery granules made of crushed shells and limestone eroded over millions of years, moved with the tides, currents and wind, slowly and gradually pushed back against the shore, grain after grain, and now forming the soft cushion I was resting on. This quiet little place located on the westerly side of Isla Espiritu Santo, just outside La Paz in Baja California Sur, was tuck between two long cliffs made of a multitude of volcanic ash layers, a product of the Miocene Era. Just like a pair of blinkers on a horse, these mineral fingers that advanced way far into the water, protecting this tiny oasis, were also preventing me from seeing the vastness of the Gulf of California, restricting my sight of this interior sea to just a sliver of emerald water. But that didn’t really matter since darkness had fallen and now my gaze was looking up, laying on my back, my hands behind my head, my eyes lost in an ocean of stars.

I was contemplating a world that was beyond my comprehension, a reality that was bigger than me, a universe that hold more secrets and treasures than I could fathom, and this reigning serenity was the perfect way to end the day.

The morning started with a gentle breeze, as the sun peeking above the horizon began its ascent into a cloudless blue sky, flooding the air with warmth, fueling invisible particles of oxygen and nitrogen with heat, causing them to move and swirl faster and generating the wind that would later slow my progress. This transition from darkness to light, this dance between the Sun and the Earth was affecting everything – the air, the ocean, the animals, the plants, and myself.

This planetary movement was intricately linked to the complex biological process that was happening in my body as my eyes were opening after longs hours of sleep, a ritual that has been fine tuning itself for thousands and thousands of year. The level of melatonin in my blood was decreasing as the presence of cortisol was going up. It is believed that this event is linked to the hippocampus in preparation of facing stress during the day. My lungs were expanding with more vigor, flooding my blood cells with oxygen, waking my muscles back from their comatose state. The same muscles that would later push against the wind.

Every part of my body was awakening. Slowly, I was becoming more in tuned with my surroundings. My existence on this planet was connected to the Universe. These carbon atoms of which my body is made of were affected by a star millions of miles away, by the gravity of the moon above me and by the unknown forces that controlled the solar system. How is it possible that we believe that Life revolves around us?

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With every paddle stroke, my thoughts, my worries, my wishes, my struggles, my joys and my pains are stripped away, leaving me naked but with clarity and perspective.

After cooking breakfast, sipping yerba mate and packing the gear into the kayak, I walked into the sea pulling the kayak off the beach. With a quick jump, I maneuvered myself into the cockpit and started to paddle. Looking back one last time, I offered my goodbyes to an imaginary host – a customary practice I do every time I arrive and depart a location, paying my respects to a place which doesn’t belong to me, honoring the hospitality I humbly received. In the same manner that I always ask the Ocean permission every time I travel its realm. It is not a religious belief but rather the understanding that my future is in the hands of nature.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

The clear blue sky had become swamped with hundreds of white smudges, much like the freckles on a summer skin. The peaceful clarity of the morning had left and in its place was some kind of an orchestrated chaos. The pelicans were flying everywhere and diving on bait fish while being harassed by sea gulls that trailed them like leeches. Rays of all different sizes jumped out of the water mysteriously, giving me the impression that the sea had turned into a giant Whack-A-Mole game. Frigate birds high in the sky keeping an eye on passing-by blue-foot boobies, waiting to steal their catch. Turkey vultures gliding effortlessly counting the days for the nearby carcass of a sea lion to reach its perfect decomposition state. Bouncing waves from the cliff with the current running around the island, plus the waves coming from the open sea and the head winds were creating this tempestuous surface that made me feel like I was sitting on a mechanic bull. And that was only what I could see. I am sure that if I poked my head underwater, I would discover another world of madness. All this energy, these whirlwinds of life, this pool of bouncing atoms, was creating heat, moving up and feeding what were now giants puffy monoliths.

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength” Jack Kerouac

The tent was up and the dinner was cooked. Pelicans were still feeding, picking the last of the survivors of what had been earlier in the day a bait ball of probably in the tens of thousands. But the way they flew and dove looked heavy and lazy. Even the sea gulls had giving up pestering them, instead floating on the water or resting on a rock nearby screaming like young spoiled brats – Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! I was reminded for a second of what we must look like after a Thanksgiving dinner, stuffed to the ears and still reaching out across the table grabbing one last piece and managing swallowing it down only with a deep breath. Who said we were different from the animals?

After its daily journey across sky, the sun was about to disappear behind the horizon, painting the sky with deep hues of orange, pink, red, and purple. Had there been no clouds but a perfect empty sky, the sunset would have still been enjoyable but would have lacked panache. It would have been simple, humdrum, kind of stale and monotonous. There wouldn’t have been any deep hues and many colors. There would have been only a general fading of the light accompanied by a possible green flash and some orange leftover at the end. It was all this energy, this chaos, this frenzy of everything this world is made of, that this sunset was feeding on and giving it back to everyone to see in the most spectacular show ever produced. Beauty was literally rising from the depths of madness.

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The wind was barely rolling over the water and the round fluffy silhouettes up above were moving away. The night was taking hold and bringing along with it its posses. Venus, Jupiter, Vega, Arcturus, and Regulas were the first to show up but give another hour and the room would be filled with billions of others. As much as this place was buzzing with noise just hours earlier, now silence was of order.

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky… a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.” Victor Hugo

Laying down on that beach, I let the world sink in. I let my thoughts disappear. I let the silence take over. I am staring at this night sky filled with stars and know that, like earlier, looking out and seeing only a sliver of the sea, I am seeing only a tiny fragment of what we call the Universe. There is so much out there. How can we think so much of ourselves in front of such inexplicable beauty and mystery? Why are we so insecure about our evolutionary identity? Why can’t we find comfort in the knowledge and humility that there are things that are bigger than us? Having no meaning in the big scheme of the universe doesn’t mean we have no meaning in life. It just means that ultimately, we matter for a moment, for the ones around us. And that is important. But in the end, the atoms that we borrowed are returned. And the only things left are memories and legacies. Even those, unfortunately for the ones who have past but to the benefit of the ones who will come, will fade away with time.

The cacophony of life is necessary. The buzzing and frenzy of our culture has a creative purpose and we shouldn’t underestimate its value but more importantly, clarity and perspective happen only when silence and solitude are present. In our culture of multi-tasking, every hour filled with endless distractions and finding ourselves relentlessly connected to our technology devices, these alone times are becoming rarer and rarer leaving us with an incapacity to delve and think deeper, stuck in the shallowness found within 140 characters. More than ever, we must find the time to STOP. BREATHE. RELAX & LISTEN.

S2 = C + P (Solitude & Silence = Clarity + Perspective)

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

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The Power of the Voice

The black bear stood tall, mounted on his hind legs, only 15 feet away from me. Its nose was covered with long grey hair, some remnants of a deer carcass it was just feeding on. Its front paw claws hung in front of him while the ones on its back paws were firmly dug into the ground. Its nostrils grew larger, then smaller, with a rhythm, inhaling the air with vigor, deciphering what the emptiness around us hold secret. Its fur was wet and looked heavy and scrubby – the weight of winter hibernation still buried deep into him. Our eyes, these marvels of evolution, so similar to each other despite belonging to such distinct species, were locked and engaged into a staring contest. As if on cue, the birds stopped chirping and the forest became silent. Just a slight cold breeze bristling the needles of Pacific Northwest conifers. In some distant corner of my memory, these iconic musical notes for a duel in a Western movie were coming out of the closet.

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I had left Telegraph Cove earlier that day. The tiny historical village was located at the north end of Vancouver Island, about 6 hours from Victoria. I had paddled south for about 5 miles and set up camp. The plan was to spend the night there then cross Johnstone Strait the next day, visit the famous Orca Lab and circumnavigate Hanson Island. With the tent up and food hoisted up in a tree, I grabbed the camera and went on a hike to investigate the area.

No more than 20 minutes had passed when I heard a sort of crunching noise, somewhere not far, over to my right, through the thick green canopy. The sound puzzled me. My hearing over the years has become attuned to strange things, the wilderness is always full of weird melodies, but this in particular was forcing me to search my repertoire of possibilities.

With binoculars in hand, I crouched and moved forward, slowly and silently, like a lion stalking its prey. My blood started to rush, my pupils dilated and my senses became super sensitive. My ancestral hunting mode had just turned itself on. I was aware of everything – the ground beneath me, the air around me, the trees surrounding me. Every step became a thoughtful process, assessing the sturdiness of leaves and branches, before I delicately lay my foot or hand over. When I photograph an animal, I make a point of not hiding, but this was different. I didn’t know what was on the other side of the curtain and before I announce myself I wanted to know what or who was there.

Inching my way closer to the source, a change in the pattern emerged. What was supposed to be green, now was black. It took only a fraction of a second to realize what it was – a black bear. But what was it doing? It was not really moving. It fact it was in one spot, its head low and slightly moving upward from time to time. Its body was mostly stationary and its focus was concentrated on what seemed to be one single task. But what was it? On the ground around was nothing in particular and yet, through my binoculars, the bear seemed to be tearing something from something else! I still remember the thoughts running through my mind – what is it that this bear is doing? It was certainly not digging. There was really no sign of a carcass, no bones sticking out, there was really nothing that would give me any clue. So I inched my way closer.

At this point, having identified the culprit, the hunter in me subdued itself and the photographer in me rose. So I took a branch with my two hands and broke it. The cracking sound reverberated through the air and the bear abruptly stopped, its ears aiming on me. Its eyes locked on my position and without any hesitation, it interrupted itself and started walking towards me. At that moment, I took my camera out, took a deep breath and connected with the inner power within me, from a species that has evolved and successfully spread its reach to almost every corner of the earth. For thousands of years, my ancestors stood where I stood, when two predatory species face each other and judge what is at stake and the possible outcomes. I was not a threat and it was my responsibility to communicate and transmit my intentions. As the bear maneuvered its way through the trees covered in moss, I let the moment sink and kept contact with the wild animal. The wilderness demands to be respected and honored. I was a visitor and my intrusion was nothing of a farce. I had imposed myself onto the bear, disrespecting its intimacy. Now I had to answer for my actions in a humble and respectful way.

Kneeling on the ground, I announced my stand. I was not to disrespect the bear no more, but I was also not going to give away the control of this situation. When wild animals meet, and right now I was one, it is all about the bluff, who holds the fear and who owns the moment. The bear in theory and physically had pretty much all advantages over me. And yet, I had to show him that I was not afraid and convince him that an attack on its behalf would be a waste of energy and not worth the effort.

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As it walked, I started to talk: “Hello Bear, I am not here to take anything away from you. This is your territory and I apologize for the intrusion. I will respect you as long as you respect me.” My words filled the silence. While they communicated my intentions and presence, the tone and calmness of the delivery reassured me. The voice carries a lot of energy. The sounds that emanates from our mouth, the air that originates from inside our lungs is pure vibration. It is alive. It has a power, and yes it can also announce a lack of it. From the dawn of life, every single species has used its vocal capacities to communicate with the world. And right now, my words were carrying my intentions and making a stand.

The bear stopped. It studied the situation. Its ears, eyes and nose were in overdrive. What was I? Was I a threat? Was I a threat to its territory? To its food? Whatever I was, I was certainly not something it was happy to have around. So it moved forward and closer. Continuing talking to him, my tone and assertiveness changed drastically when he got off the mount of dead tree and found itself no further away than about 25 feet from me. At that moment, my voice got deeper and sturdier. I remembered that scene in the Lord of Rings when Gandalf stood on that ridge, hitting the ground with his staff and loudly spoke:”You Will Not Pass!” I didn’t have a gray beard nor I had a staff, but my command to the bear resonated and echoed across the forest. As my words faded into the distance, the bear stopped, stared at me, turned around and went back to the place it had come from. The dynamic had been established. While I had taken control of the moment, from the bear perspective, it felt that I wasn’t a menace and it resumed at tearing whatever it was tearing before my interruption.

With a mix of curiosity and pride, I decided to stay where I was and kept observing. I was still clueless on what the bear was eating and perhaps deep down, some dominant species behavior was forbidding me to leave. So I sat there, not moving for another 20 minutes, glued to my binoculars.

The bear must have felt the annoying stalking cause it came back. And this time, everything felt different. I could see it in its eyes, they were defiant and had a purpose. Its stride was solid and grounded. It was not charging but it was coming with an intent. As it passed the dead tree, my Gandalf move fell into dead ears and I had to suddenly change my strategy. So I stood up.

As we faced each other, eye to eye, predator to predator, mammal to mammal, survivor to survivor, I reached down into my inner core and connected to a primal place I am not even sure existed in me. I don’t carry any firearms but I do have with me ways to defend myself. Attached to my belt was a long machete with a velcro wrapped around the handle. Pulling a John Wayne, my hands hovered at my waist and I told the bear that if it wanted to come at me, I would not go down without a fight and that if one of us would end up beaten, I swore to it, it sure wasn’t going to be me. With my lips closing on that last word, my fingers slowly pulled the velcro and as the stripping sound of the fabric tearing away filled the air, the bear slowly lowered itself back to its four legs, its ears showing sign of defeat and its eyes avoiding contact with me. It throttled back to its spot, then proceeded with much energy at tearing something. To my surprise, I gazed at the bear running away with half a leg of a deer. It had indeed been a carcass hiding there beneath the tree and all this time the bear was protecting an important source of food. The adrenaline still pumping into my veins, I sat down once more on the ground and took a deep breath. I thanked the forest and my ancestors for their protection and apologized to the bear for the trouble.

Our voice and words have tremendous power. Our culture of technology and science might have reduced them to simple  phonetic products, but the truth is that they carry much more. They are vessels filled with subtleties, nuances, emotions, and intent. If the roar of a lion can rule the Serengeti, if the howl of wolf can conquer the forest and if the unique sound of a baby penguin can be recognized by it mother amongst millions of others, imagine what your voice can do.

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” Confucius

W.I.L.D. Scholarship Recipients

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It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the first 2 W.I.L.D. Scholarship recipients, Gavrielle Thompson and Kedyn Sierra.

Going on this trip feels so right. I’m ready to soak up all the new knowledge, life lessons, and memories that are on its way. Not only am I stoked for this trip, but I’m overflowing with gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity. “ Gavrielle

“I’m excited to be participating on the 30 day NOLS expedition this summer. I hope this experience will give me the opportunity to get closer wildlife and witness breathtaking views. On a more personal note, I hope this chance to experience a new part of the world will give me a new perspective of people and culture.” Kedyn

N.O.L.S. as awarded them both a scholarship so that the funds raised during the W.I.L.D. campaign will go towards supporting these two incredible young people and attend the month-long sea kayaking wilderness camp in Alaska this summer.

“NOLS is excited to support both Kedyn Sierra and Gavrielle Thompson in attending their NOLS Alaska Sea Kayaking courses this summer of 2015. They have demonstrated exceptional merit, and we believe firmly that they will make excellent students this summer. The goal of the NOLS scholarship is to help support students who we believe will make influential and important leaders in their communities and future careers, and who otherwise would not be able to attend. We strongly believe in Kedyn and Gavrielle’s abilities, and are excited to get to know them better this summer.”

A huge thank you to ETC Trips for helping in the process of selection.

UPDATE

I am so proud of Kedyn Sierra, who, thanks to your contributions and support, spent a month sea kayaking with NOLS in Alaska last summer. Please WATCH the video and you will see how the power of nature has shaped this incredible young individual.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”” Dr. Seuss

#ThePowerOfNature

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Stories unite us and nature heals us. It is for that reason that I have decided to start a new Facebook Page focused on YOUR storytelling relating to how NATURE has changed your life, and how it has helped you become a better person.

This page is for everyone to post. Feel free to share your experiences, your inspiration, your moments of bliss, your lessons learned, your insightful hikes, your peaceful paddles, your challenging backcountry explorations; share any story that highlights the power of nature to restore our human spirit.

Nature is more than a destination. It is a teacher, a meditation, it is food for the soul and the body, inspiration for the arts, a healer, a mentor, a lover – what is Nature for you? Tell us!

Please use the hashtag #ThePowerOfNature when posting on Twitter, Instagram and Google +. Every month we will award a signed print of my work to one lucky winner, among the ones who posted throughout all social media platforms (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google +).

A Challenging Return

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The road is my home. It is where I feel alive. It is where I breathe and nourish myself. The road feeds my craving for discovery. It calms my restless mind hungry for new experiences. My dreams are blank canvases that paint themselves as I move forward towards new destinations. I am like a mountain river that needs the movement to fill itself with air. Let me dawdle in a pond and I start to suffocate. It is not that I can’t stay in one place it is just that my energy vibrates to the rhythm of the unexpected and continuous change – endless journeys filled with discoveries.

But two months ago, my 9 months of traveling came to an abrupt end (Alive and Stronger) and since then I have been feeling the weight of inertia. It wasn’t until last week, while trying to find clarity on a beach that I realized just how much of a recluse and grouch I had became, overwhelmed by loss (camera equipment stolen) and sensory overload. It was not only that I felt my energy stuck in a perpetual loop of nothingness, but that my vision and optimism had became clouded with a dark and asphyxiating curtain, like algae chocking a river until nothing lives, transforming a once thriving ecosystem into a dead zone, leaving behind this empty liquid – a ghost.

And these last few months, I have been nothing but an angry ghost, snapping at everything and every one.

So returning from the beach after Thanksgiving, I decided to write about it. I needed a catharsis. I needed to feel the sun again and find peace in the moment. I needed to be grateful for what I had and stop chocking on the things I was missing. I needed to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX and LISTEN. So nature brought me back from the dead.

On that same day I started writing, Becca Skinner posted on Facebook the following:

“There’s a part of me that woke up this morning with a wild heart and restlessness in my bones. And I craved the road and traveling to the point of near tears. So I sat down and wrote about it, drank cups of coffee and told the restlessness to hold on a little bit longer. After spending so much time traveling, it’s often difficult for me to stay in one place. It’s something I’m working on.

Reading her intimate thoughts made me realized that most of us who explore and seem – judging from all our social media feeds, to be living a life of dreams and adventures, all come back and crash. So I reached out to my fellow travelers and explorers and asked them to share with me their thoughts on the topic.

Scott Rinckenberger, is a professional photographer and adventurer specializing in capturing the most wild and pristine places his legs, skis and bikes will carry him. His commercial clients include REI, Patagonia, Red Bull and Intel.

“There is something that we earth-bound explorers share with those who venture into the open reaches of space. We have both experienced altered gravity. Theirs is a physical experience, ours is mental and spiritual. When adventuring I feel more energy, more strength, more speed and more clarity. For a time I attributed this to how my body was reacting to the environment, but I’ve come to realize that it’s my mind reacting to the change in constraints. It’s become clear to me that daily life in the city has a density that can weigh down and suffocate those who have tasted a lighter way of being. Our lungs expand less readily, our eyes see less distance, our minds have less clarity of purpose, and our bodies struggle under the increased burdens. It is so easy to succumb to the pressure, to opt for depression or escapism. Sometimes I let myself settle for this weakness for a short time. But I strive with all of my being to keep my ears open to the voice that reminds me how fortunate I have been, how much love I’ve been blessed with, how minor are my burdens in comparison to so many. And I force myself to go to my office, fire up my computer and update my status to read: “Stoked to be back home with family and friends.” And I try with all I have to really mean it.”

Jeremy Collins, is an illustrator, storyteller, film director, exploratory rock climber and founder of Meridian Line

It has a name. I call it the PTD, or Post Trip Depression. It comes on soft, posing as nostalgia or phantom warmth, then WHAM it hits like a glass wall. I crash through and land back in real life, whatever that is. I check the mail, mow the lawn, or whatever normal people do to play the game. It’s never easy, coming home. The landing is rough, the tarmac crumbled, and I land in the bed with a blazing heap of metal, luggage and memories.”

Sarah Outen, a British adventurer, ocean rower. She is currently part way through her multi-year expedition ‘London2London: Via the World’ – an attempt to row, cycle and kayak a continuous loop of the planet, starting and finishing at Tower Bridge.

“I work with a psychotherapist and we identified after my Indian Ocean row in 2009 that transitioning back into ‘normal’ life was really hard – and then through L2L that each transition in and out of different phases is the same. The biggest challenge for me came after my rescue from the North Pacific in 2012. Suddenly there was a huge trauma to deal with as well – I had experienced something very intense, threatening in total isolation and lost my boat in the process. People expected me to be happy and to slot right back in at full speed. In fact, I really, really struggled and it took a while to realize the depth of that struggle and seek proper help. It’s something that I have spoken about with many fellow adventuring pals and I would say that many are not that open about it. And I guess that’s not just in our adventuring expeditioning realm either – there is such a stigma around mental health that struggled often get brushed under the carpet or hidden from sharing. I wrote a blog post about my depression post Pacific 2012 and it was one of the most heavily commented posts of my entire trip. I think that acknowledging there may well be a settling in period after a trip is important. We often prepare for the going away, but thinking about the coming home is useful too and how to structure what happens next. Or even just acknowledging that it is OK, it is normal and we don’t need to charge back on with ‘normal’ stuff right away. Be gentle with yourself – that’s one of the best things I have learned on my trip.”

Krystle Wright is an adventure photographer, Canon Master, Red Bull Illume Top 50 finalist, F-Stop Gear Ambassador, SanDisk AU, and global traveller in search of unique images

“I am a child of the universe, officially a non resident of any country. My camera leads me to the far corners of the earth as I try to fulfill my insatiable desire to document expeditions and disconnect from civilization. I crave the escape. I thrive in the extremes, seeking the freedom and liberation that comes with completely disconnecting from modern luxuries. Yet at the same time I am more connected than ever to just being in the moment. Though inevitably I’ll return periodically and jump into the city scene for brief moments. I can only handle it for a short space of time before I feel the urge to get going again. I haven’t had a home for 3 years now and I have come to just embrace the nomadic lifestyle. It’s not that I hate cities, I just know that its not where I belong. There are many wonderful things that can happen in all types of scenarios including the hustle and bustle of the city, my biggest concern is that people become lost and engulfed and probably forget to disconnect and just simply be outside. Ultimately, it’s all about finding balance.”

Cristian Dimitrus, a cameraman, photographer, biologist and tv personality specialized in wildlife and natural history, his work has been featured on major television networks, including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, TV Globo, History Channel and Animal Planet.

“Some people say that a true adventure means “get out of your comfort zone”. But when I am back in the city I am definitely out of my comfort zone. So for me being back in town is an adventure in its own way. Not the most enjoyable one but its the place where I have the opportunity to dream out loud, visualize and plan new adventures. This is the way I found to cope with the craziness. My mind takes me wherever I can imagine and sooner than I realize, I am there, back in the wild, where I belong, in Flesh and Blood.”

Catherine Yrisarri, is a documentary storyteller who has produced environmental, political and social stories in over 40 countries. Her clients include National Geographic Channel & Creative, PBS, Oprah, New York Times, The North Face & many others.

“I’ve lived in New York City for the past 6 years which is a strange dichotomy to my life & work on the road where I typically pilgrimage to places of immense natural beauty like the Himalaya, Indian Ocean, Peruvian Andes to capture stories about the culture or environment. In these places, you feel the majesty of the diverse ecosystem that exist in this fragile, beautiful world. It is spectacular. Then I return home to an epicenter of culture and diversity where humanity exists so closely knit here, but there’s a lack of nature. It’s a hard to return to and reconcile at times especially growing up in Colorado so closely tied to rivers and mountains. I find myself pushing toward projects that bring me back to these spaces because they lack in my daily life at the moment. There’s definitely a need in us all for the wildness, untouched beauty. I feel lucky enough that I get paid to escape to these recesses of the world that are slowly closing in by population dynamics and other human impact needs like mining and resource extraction.” 

Skip Armstrong, an award-winning director and cinematographer. His client list includes Boeing, Air New Zealand, National Geographic, Camp4 Collective, BF Goodrich Tires, The North Face, New Belgium Brewery, NRS, Patagonia and many more. His films have been awarded at major film festivals including Banff and Telluride.

“I’ve always been struck by the perfection of undisturbed wilderness.  The plants, animals, rivers – they are all in a state of balance.  I’ve found that after a few days I can’t help but personally take on the same feeling, of being balanced.  When returning to cities and the busyness of day to day life the stark contrast between the two worlds is remarkable. I wish and hope that we all prioritize and embrace the value that only wild and undisturbed lands can offer.”

Winston Ben Wolfrider, a British explorer who just returned home after traveling coast to coast across the USA for World Land Trust. He covered over 25,000 miles on just $6 a day, via a hoard of natural checkpoints.

I call it Re-entry. It’s hideous, and often welcomes me “home” or dumps me somewhere after a journey whilst handing me “plane flu”, a man-cold or a repetitive strain injury, at the same time as most people are ignorant to the fact that I might be jetlagged or in a version of shock. Ending any trip is the most awesome feeling of elation and accomplishment, yet immediately after the smiles, it’s possibly the biggest anti-climax and strongest feeling of loneliness I have ever felt. Many Olympic medal winners feel the same, so I’ve heard. There’s only one thing for it… start seeking the next one!

Sarah Menzies, a filmmaker based out of Seattle currently working on Afghan Cycles, a feature length documentary about the brave women riding bike in Afghanistan. Sarah founded her production company Let Media in 2012.

“Since I was a young kid, I knew I wanted to see the world. I’ve figured out a way to make those dreams come true when I became a filmmaker. My job takes me all over the world and I love it. The first few years of this work had me living on the road, out of a bag. I felt free. I’m actually renting a place right now, which I’m still getting used to. I’ve never looked at drawers the same way. I can actually unpack my bag now! While life with a home base has been an adjustment in and of itself, my recovery time from trips has totally changed. Life used to be one big trip that I was on. I like the balance of renting because it allows me to nurture a community and my relationships. I just got a dog! But I lack balance in the coming and going. When I get home from a production, it takes me a few days to find my normal again. I miss the sights, smells, conversations that I have when I’m on the road. It’s hard to tell stories from those experiences to my loved ones who were not with me, so I often feel lonely after a trip. Loneliness also comes in the form of missing all the people I met on those trips. My brain easily wanders as I think about those new friends and wonder if I’ll ever get to see them again. But as a filmmaker, I’m in a unique position because I get to relive those experiences (again and again!) as I work through an edit and share the final piece. As I edit something near and dear to my heart, I can almost feel those places, people, and even smells wrap around me and give me a big hug. It lessens the blow of re-entry, and helps give me closure with a trip and strength to move on to the next one.”

Cristina Mittermeier, is a Mexican-born photographer and conservationist, former President of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a SONY Artisan. Her work has been featured in museums, art shows books and magazines, including National Geographic. She was recently assigned as a judge for the World Press Photo Award.

“The work of the photojournalist is exciting and stimulating but make no mistake, it also requires tremendous sacrifice. It demands infinite energy, tireless enthusiasm, a spirit of adventure, the ability to survive under difficult circumstances and the courage to confront danger. It can be all consuming, which makes for lonely spouses and neglected children. So, I confess. After so many years of being a nomad, all I want these days is to be home. Without a doubt, when the next assignment comes, I will be as excited and ready to go on another adventure, but for now I crave the comforting routine of a small, uncomplicated existence. I know it won’t last long and pretty soon I will be packing again, so while I am here, I like to pretend that the rest of the world doesn’t exist and I savor the beauty of the simple, everyday stuff.” 

Chris Burkard, is a photographer and World Explorer of cold, remote places. His clients include American Airlines, Nikon, Volkswagen, Apple, Fuel TV, Burton, Volcom, RVCA, Poler Stuff, Pacifico, among others, as well as having work published on over 35 national and international covers of magazines including Surfer Magazine, The New Yorker, National Geographic Adventure, ESPN.com

“I live for some of these adventures.  It is what gets my blood pumping and the hair on my skin to stand up. At the end I am happy to come home to see my family, but there are nights where I am kept up thinking about my next journey or dreaming about where I just was.  Sometimes I’ll go to a rock climbing gym to clear my mind, but I’m always thinking about my next step.” 

Flemming Bo Jensen, official Fuji X-photographer, traveler, filmmaker, has lived as a nomad for the past 5 years.

“It is always hard to come down after the high of a long road trip and adventure. The freedom of roaming through stunning landscapes, having new experiences and a new horizon every day is bliss for my soul. But after many years as a nomad I have realized everything must happen in balance. The time between adventures is equally important. It affords time to organize and fund the next adventure, time to have a daily routine, time to reflect and recharge. And most importantly, it reminds me how fortunate I am to have the freedom to do these adventures.”

Cody Howard from Huckin Huge Films

“Coming back from an adventure or trip of a lifetime to the hustle of the city always reminds me of an important mantra: everything in moderation. Moderate your time away from city and moderate your time in the city, you’ll grow to appreciate both. Burning out is real, moderation and healthy balance is what I strive for. Back to hills for me!”

Roei Sadan, is an Israeli adventurer that cycled around the world.

“Crossing the world on a bicycle for 5 years and coming back to the same place was the hardest part of the journey. I felt like it was a dream and that I would wake up. But ultimately I didn’t have to because the journey was inside me. The world is inside me, every challenge I faced, every desert or high mountain range I crossed became a part of me. Every project that we do stays inside of us and makes us better people. I feel like I know a secret that not many people know. But I will tell you my friends, you don’t have to do a big journey or a great challenge to feel great with yourself, the things that make my day are the things that are free and open for everyone. A great day is a day that you can enjoy the miracle of the sunrise and the magic of the sunset, simple and special. You can enjoy that if you are in the middle of the city or in the middle of a wild place. Enjoy the simplicity and dream with open eyes!”

STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

FALL NEWSLETTER

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Happy is he who is awakened by the cool song of the stream, by a real voice of living nature. Each new day has for him the dynamic quality of birth.

Gaston Bachelard, French Philosopher.

ALIVE & STRONGER

My first attempt to kayak a 1,000 miles, from Victoria, on the Island of Vancouver in Canada to San Francisco, was unfortunately put to a stop on Cannon Beach in Oregon at the end of September. The story ALIVE & STRONGER has been featured on the Canoe Kayak Magazinewebsite and will be appearing in the upcoming printed issue. This ocean story is about the power of nature to shape your character; about how being able to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN can make all the difference in any given moment. It is a story about hope, humility and focusing on the things that really matter in life.

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W.I.L.D. SCHOLARSHIP

It has been just over a month since the end of the first W.I.L.D. fundraising campaign. With 86 funders, enough money was raised to send one under privileged teen to a month long NOLS sea kayaking immersion camp in the summer of 2015, airfare included.

Since then, I have been busy organizing the perks and looking for the lucky teen. Collaborating with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), an amazing organization based in San Francisco, that enables people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth to access the wilderness and develop an environmental stewardship, I can proudly say that before the end of the year, I will announce the recipient of the first W.I.L.D. Scholarship.

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NATURE VALLEY

I am extremely proud to announce that December will mark the beginning of my new partnership with NATURE VALLEY. NATURE VALLEY understands the power and reach it has to promote a healthy lifestyle and the value of stepping out into nature to restore our human spirit.

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Their campaign #GetOutThere, their project TrailView and their recent involvement with Erik Weihenmayer is only the beginning of their expanded focus. I am extremely honored to have been invited to be a part of it.

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THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT COLLECTION

I am presently working with an amazing San Francisco-based designer and master calligraphy Nobuhiro Sato to create a beautiful collection of WILD IMAGE products that will include t-shirts, merino hoodies, mugs, greeting cards, tote bags, water bottles and more.

The inspiration for the collection comes from the simplicity of a brush stroke to illustrate the purity and serenity of nature. The collection will soon be available through my online store – built by Coffee and Magic, and various distribution locations across the country. If you want to be notified when the collection will be available, please contact me.

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SALSA CYCLES

One of the beauties of sea kayaking is the pace – fast enough to cover some distance, yet slow enough that you can feel and experience all that this world has to offer. There is something primal and satisfying about feeling the elements, the rain, the wind, the sun. You can smell the fragrances of the ocean, the distinct aroma of a bay, the seaweed, the breath of a whale, the stench of ammonia from a bird colony. There is also something exhilarating about experiencing the vulnerability felt when encountering wild animals that are bigger than you, in a vessel that offers almost no protection.

Biking is kayak’s earthy equivalent – in every way possible. It is a lifestyle and a way of experiencing life. It is the desire to slow down… STOP, BREATHE, RELAX, LISTEN and honor the beauty around us.

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So it is with great pleasure that I am announcing my new partnership with SALSA Cycles. I plan on spending as much time on the water as off and my new Fargo TI is the perfect vehicle to explore the remote roads of North America. Equipped with my THULE gear and photo equipment I will be able to share my experiences with you wherever I go.

As a modern-day explorer, it’s hard to differentiate yourself; Daniel Fox, through his unique lens, has found a powerful way to do just that. His vision is innovative, his passion palpable. It’s exactly these characteristics that speak to (and inspire) his audience, which at Salsa Cycles, we feel is the same as ours—adventure enthusiasts, addicts and ambassadors. His talents, particularly in the photography department, match his lofty ambitions, and we’re excited to see what next peak he can summit!” Justin Julian, Salsa Cycles


PUBLIC SPEAKING

If you find yourself around the Bay Area in December or January, I will be speaking at the REI stores in San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Corte Madera and at the Commonwealth Club of California. Click here to find out the dates.

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MARINE CONSERVATION INSTITUTE

I am truly honored to have been chosen as a Partner for the Global Ocean Refuge Systems, a contributor from the Marine Conservation Institute and for the IUCN. My photos have already been used for various projects like the Institute’s new SEA G20 STATE 2014 report and their campaign awareness cards for GLORES and MPAtlas. My work was also featured at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney this November.

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“Daniel artfully exposes the beauty of the oceans for the rest of us to enjoy and is able to capture all the beauty and splendor of marine animals in their natural environments. We look forward to working with him to help make GLORES visually accessible to people all around the world.”  Caro Dratva, director of development of Marine Conservation Institute.

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1st PRIZE ALASKA MAGAZINE

Every year, Alaska Magazine awards the top photos that capture the spirit of the Frontier State. For this year’s Annual Photo Contest, the magazine has given my Steller sealion photo taken at Middle Pass, Inian Islands, Alaska the 1st prize in the Wildlife Category.

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MEDIA

A quick summary of recent media coverage.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS

With December around the corner, it is amazing that already the year 2014 is about to end. Looking ahead to a promising and exciting 2015, I wish you wonderful and joyous holiday season. Be sure to take the time to STOP, BREATHE, RELAX and LISTEN.

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.The very reason why we exist is to explore, connect, and experience.” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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Feel the Wild

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I will be giving talks at REI stores and at the Commonwealth Club in December and January. See the dates and locations below. Looking forward to seeing you all.

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Lessons from Photographing the Wilderness

What is it like to be sitting on the grass 10 feet away from a one-ton bison as it slowly passes by you, staring at you. To have a brown bear challenging you 15 feet away. How to embrace the chaotic world of nature and find the magic nature has to offer. How to find inspiration even in the worst of times. Doing photography in the wilderness is more than simply observing a wild world through the lens, but it is chance to connect with the world around, to capture that connection that unites us to all species roaming this planet. This presentation is about becoming a better photographer by learning from nature. It is also about using technology in a constructive way and not getting overwhelmed by it.

REI San Francisco, December 3rd

REI San Jose, December 9th

REI Berkeley, December 10th

REI Corte Madera, January 14th

 

The Commonwealth Club

 

The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit

Storyteller, explorer and photographer Daniel Fox brings you along on his journey into the wild. From grizzly bears in Alaska to crocodile-like caimans in Argentina, the images of his journeys bring the contours of the wilderness into stark relief and make clear the inherent connection between humans and the natural world. Join us as his stories of the depths of wildlife provide an opportunity for all of us to come feel the power of nature through the eyes of Daniel Fox!

San Francisco, January 22th

Salsa

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One of the beauties of sea kayaking is the pace – fast enough to cover some distance, yet slow enough that you can feel and experience all that this world has to offer. There is something primal and satisfying about feeling the elements, the rain, the wind, the sun. You can smell the fragrances of the ocean, the distinct aroma of a bay, the seaweed, the breath of a whale, the stench of ammonia from a bird colony. There is also something exhilarating about experiencing the vulnerability felt when encountering wild animals that are bigger than you, in a vessel that offers almost no protection.

Biking is kayak’s earthy equivalent – in every way possible. It is a lifestyle and a way of experiencing life. It is the desire to slow down and honor the beauty around us.

So it is with great pleasure that I am announcing my new partnership with SALSA Cycles. As I plan on spending as much time on the water as off the water, my Fargo TI will give me the perfect vehicle to explore the remote dirt roads of North America. Equipped with THULE gear, I will be able to carry all my gear and photo equipment and continue reporting from the field.

“As a modern-day explorer, it’s hard to differentiate yourself; Daniel Fox, through his unique lens, has found a powerful way to do just that. His vision is innovative, his passion palpable. It’s exactly these characteristics that speak to (and inspire) his audience, which at Salsa Cycles, we feel is the same as ours—adventure enthusiasts, addicts and ambassadors. His talents, particularly in the photography department, match his lofty ambitions, and we’re excited to see what next peak he can summit!” Justin Julian, Salsa Cycles

#GetOutThere Nature Valley

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I am extremely proud to announce that December will mark the beginning of my new partnership with NATURE VALLEY. Reaching beyond being a simple company of granola and protein bars, NATURE VALLEY understands the power and reach it has to promote a healthy lifestyle and our need of nature to restore our human spirit.

Their campaign #GetOutThere, their project TrailView and their recent involvement with Erik Weihenmayer is only the tip of what they have in plan for the future and I am extremely thrilled that I am going to be a part of it!

By becoming one of their official contributors, NATURE VALLEY gives me an incredible platform from which I can expand my mission of bridging the teachings of the wilderness to the public and my campaign STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN.

Make sure to follow their INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK page as my content will appear on their feed periodically, starting in December.

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W.I.L.D. – Update

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It has been a little over 3 weeks since the end of the first W.I.L.D. fundraising campaign. With 86 funders, enough money was raised to send one under privileged teen to a month long NOLS sea kayaking immersion camp in the summer of 2015, airfare included.

Since then, I have been busy organizing the perks and looking for the lucky teen. Collaborating with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), an amazing organization based in San Francisco, that enables people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth to access the wilderness and develop an environmental stewardship, I can proudly say that before the end of the year, I will announce the recipient of the first W.I.L.D. Scholarship.

I am also working with an amazing artist, Nobuhiro Sato, on creating the brand identity for the Power of Nature to Restore of Human Spirit – STOP . BREATHE . RELAX. LISTEN, that will be featured on a new series of mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, tote bags and much more.  These are the mugs that the ones who have donated $50 and more will received.

For those who have contributed $20 and more, your THANK YOU postcards will be mailed next week.

The prints, which were part of the $250 and more contribution, will be sent before the end of year.

A big thank you to Next Adventure, Icebreaker, Voltaic Systems and everybody who has contributed to the campaign.

Alive and Stronger

I have a story to share with you.

It is a story about the power of nature to shape your character.

It is a story about how being able to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN can make all the difference in any given moment.

It is a story about hope, humility and focusing on the things that really matter in life.

After completing my paddle on the coast of Washington State and stopping in Portland to talk with several groups about my W.I.L.D. campaign, it was time to continue my journey to San Francisco.

In the days prior to my departure, I was keeping track of the weather. The forecast now was the same for the week ahead … strong southerly winds would blow 15 to 25 knots, rain would be consistent and the swell from the West would increase as the week went by. The weather system was due to calm down beginning the next weekend.

I had my waypoints marked down and even though I had many challenging paddling days ahead, I was excited to get back on the water. In my head, the song “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger was already playing on repeat.

My departure time from Astoria was set by the tide. I didn’t want to fight the tide coming in and leaving with the ebb tide meant that I would get a double push – the river and the tide. So at noon, slack time, I left the marina.

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The conditions were much different than when I paddled in the Columbia River several days ago. I was now doing 6 knots in speed and to my right there were big breakers stretching for miles. The Columbia Bar was living up to its reputation.

Keeping my distance, I rounded the danger zone and passed the South Jetty. My plan was to tuck in right after. The jetty would offer that protected path I needed to land on the beach. But the swell was coming dead on and pounding my landing spot full force. I had two choices: to go back into the Columbia River against the current, avoiding all the breakers and finding my way to the shore or to keep going.

Seaside was 17 miles away. There was a little spot that offered a possible landing; then after that, about 6 miles from there, around Tillamook Head, was Indian Beach. It was a protected cove that, after looking at the marine and aerial maps, offered a safe stop. In the worst-case scenario, I would most likely be landing in the dark, but with the current conditions, a West swell, the cove would be fairly flat … or so I thought. I decided to go forward and paddle.

It was a hot day. There was not a cloud in the sky. The sea was almost metallic due to the absence of wind. Sooty Shearwaters flew all around me, gliding over the water with ease, the tip of their wings just slightly touching the surface. These birds have truly evolved to become a perfect oceanic flying creature.

It was 7pm when I reached Seaside. The swell was still pounding the shore with massive surf and now my chances of landing before sunset were disappearing. I looked for an opening somewhere – anywhere. I saw one. Not too far, there was a place where the surf seemed to be dying down. After timing the sets, I started paddling in. And then at the last minute, just before reaching the point of no return, three massive waves appeared, breaking just 10 feet ahead of me. I looked at the clouds of white seawater rising up into the sky, the roaring of the waves crashing and suddenly it became clear to me that there was no way my feet would be touching sand this evening. The sun had disappeared over the horizon and in about an hour it would be totally dark.

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My next waypoint, Indian Beach, around the Tillamook Head, was about two hours away. I reached behind and opened my day hatch to get my headlamp out. The thought of spending the night on the water was starting to be a reality. It was the last thing I wanted to do but my chances of finding my way into a sleeping bag were fading.

With still no clouds, the sky was filled with stars. The Milky Way was intense and imposing. A shooting star crossed the sky. And then another. The bioluminescence was showing strong. The kayak left stark glowing white trails on the black surface. My paddle cut through the water and created explosions of glitter. Every time a drop of water fell on the kayak, it scintillated. I wonder for a second if I really wanted to get to shore. If I was to spend the night on the ocean, these were the be the dreamiest, prefect conditions. This could actually turn out to be one incredible night!

I checked my phone and I looked at my location. The cove was only a mile away now. I would be there around 9pm. The weather forecast had predicted 20 knots winds but up until then they seemed nowhere to be found.

As I approached the area and shortly after dreaming of a nice night landing, staying up late doing photography of this magical bioluminescent evening,  I passed the point and found myself battling the expected headwinds.

One more check on the map and my safety zone was supposed to be right ahead. But the only thing I saw and heard were the glowing whitecaps of thunderous surf. How could this be? The swell was coming from the west and the sheltered bay entrance faced south. How was it that the swell was now heading straight into the cove? Aside from this waypoint, there was nothing around for at least 20 miles that could offer relief. I remembered from the map that there was a path into the cove, but it was dark. I couldn’t see anything but the crash of waves. I looked at the map again and oriented myself. There was a series of rocks ahead that should offer protection. So I went for it.

Just a minute into my push, I heard this massive roar behind me and within seconds, I was upside down being pummeled from all directions. Suddenly, my paddle snapped in two. I come back up in time to take a breath before another one came over. I capsized again and this time I couldn’t roll back. The beating and the broken paddle left me no choice but to wet exit.

Lucky to have a break, I managed to get back in, grabbed the spare paddle from my stern, tucked the skirt over the now-filled-with-water cockpit and pushed my way forward as hard as I could. Now more than ever, I knew I would have to spend the night on the water and the under the Milky Way, but by at this point the stars and glowing oceans were the last things on my mind.

Out of the surf zone, I pumped the water out and assessed the situation. I had been paddling for 10 hours, covering about 38 miles. I was tired and my hands hurt. Despite the drysuit, the cold from that unfortunate dip into the Pacific waters was seeping into my body. I had to keep moving. I had to keep my muscles, my body producing energy and heat. I hadn’t had dinner – besides the food I had consumed during the day. I had an emergency ration of jerky and bars but in these conditions I could hardly stop to eat. So I pushed forward. I looked ahead and the irony of the situation hit me. Lights of Cannon Beach were almost within grasp, perhaps no more than half a mile. I pictured the people in their houses, watching television, enjoying a glass a wine, and kissing their children goodnight. And here I was, in a totally different world where my life, my existence was on the verge of being questioned. How could this be? Within such close proximity to be finding such extreme different realities?

I had no choice but to keep paddling. Even if I was barely making progress, the options were simply not there for me. How would I make through the night? I didn’t know and I couldn’t stop to think about it. My only way to survival was to take one minute at a time, find comfort in that minute passed and focus on passing the next.

And then my worst fear happened. I started to shiver.

I know my body. I have always been pretty tolerant of the cold. I grew up in Quebec with winters in the minus 20’s. But the moment that my body shivers, it is only a question of minutes before I start to tremble and loose control of my shaking muscles. The option of spending the night on the ocean was no more viable. There was no way I could stay in this kayak for another 7 hours and not go into hypothermia.

There are risks you can afford if you are with other people. But when alone, the last place you want to find yourself is in a cornered place with no exit, no possible call for help. I did have my SOS button, a cell phone and a VHF as a lifeline but I felt I I hadn’t yet played all my cards.

Looking over to my left, I noticed a campfire on the beach and was surprised to see how close I was to it, perhaps just 40 yards. Despite the light of the houses further away, I was really not that far from land. Still, between the beach and myself was a wall of crashing waves. Between my current predicament and the safety of landing was a world of horrible possibilities, each with the power of turning my situation to the worst. There was no way for these people to see or hear me. And even if they had, there was nothing they could do. For me, there was little I could do but start looking into confronting the surf.

My eyes focused on the silhouette made by the water line, trying to figure out the rhythm of the sets. To be honest there was not much to decipher in the dark. I took a deep breath and relaxed for a second. I closed my eyes and asked the ocean to keep an eye on me. I started paddling toward the surf. A wave crashed. I stopped. I hesitated. I went again. And like a “deja vu”, I heard the roaring mounting behind me, like a giant monster rising from the depths and about to engulf me with one bite. Grasping for the impact I filled my lungs with as much air as I could.

The weight of the Pacific landed on my back with such tremendous force that I felt the kayak breaking in two. It was not like trying to rip a piece of fiberglass apart. The kayak literally snapped in two halves like a dry twig. The ring of the cockpit was broken but my skirt was still around it. I was in the water being ravaged by the surf, tied to the waist with a piece of the kayak on each side of me.

All this time I was thinking I had to get out of there as soon as possible. I didn’t like the idea of finding myself in between two loose 8-feet long pieces of broken fiberglass tubes filled with gear. It wouldn’t take much for them to crush my ribs and cut my waist. I tried to pull on the handle of the skirt but it was not working. I was simply pulling the loose cockpit ring toward me. Still, wiggling it non-stop I finally managed to get it off.

Free from the kayak’s entrails, I swam around it. The kayak was still held together by some rope and some stripes. My last paddle was now gone. Putting myself in-between the in-coming surf and the boat, I started swimming and pushing one of kayak pieces forward. You never want to find yourself with a kayak, or a board, behind you in the surf! There has been too many accidents where people were knocked unconscious by flying objects. Every wave pushed me and the kayak closer to the beach. About 15 minutes later, I felt the sand under my feet.

I got up and grabbed the bow handle in one hand and the stern handle in the other and started pulling the wreck as far up passed the tide line as I could before collapsing. I opened the back hatch, pulled out the bivy and sleeping bag. Slipped out of the drysuit and into my sleeping quarters.

It was midnight. I didn’t care for food or anything else. My hands were bloody with cuts all over. All I wanted was to lay still and warm myself up. I was safe, in one piece and that was the most important thing at that moment.. Nature had reminded me of the fickleness of life and how little control we have over it.

Over the last 5 hours I had experienced sheer beauty, joy, happiness, deception, pain, frustration, and had faced the indifference of a world that was bigger than me. Laying on the sand next to my wrecked kayak, I was not angry nor was I afraid. I was simply grateful to be alive. As I pulled the zipper up leaving blood marks on the fabric, I thanked the ocean for its protection, closed my eyes and went to sleep.

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These experiences, as unfortunate as they may seem, are defining moments in your life. They form your character and change your perception of the world around you forever. My crash happened on Sunday the 21st at midnight, exactly one month to the day after I departed from Victoria. I can’t help but smile at the fact this paddle was for my W.I.L.D. Campaign raising money to send under-privileged youth to a “month” long immersion wilderness camp.

Life is not about avoiding the crashes but rather finding ways to get back up and transform these seemingly negative events into positive, productive experiences.

These are the discovery and leadership lessons nature provides us when we open ourselves to the experience.

Although this 1,000-mile paddle to San Francisco has come to an unexpected, abrupt end, the W.I.L.D. campaign is far from over; my commitment to the campaign is stronger than ever.

More to come on that in the following weeks.

Summer Newsletter

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As I am about to embark on a 2 1/2 month long paddle, I am reminded of a quote sent to me by a friend. In her poem Stanzas, Emily Blonte writes:

“Often rebuked, yet always back returning to those first feelings that were born with me… I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide… The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling. Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.”

I spent the last 3 months exploring the wilderness of Alaska, letting nature be my guide and mentor. Always grounding me to what is essential in life, I experienced profound insights, humility and was welcomed by love everywhere I went.


W.I.L.D.

Our connection to nature is deeply rooted but if it is not experienced at a young age it is most likely that it will never find an anchor on which it can grown. Wilderness immersion camps are for me one of the most precious ways to ignite the bond we have with the planet.

I believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology.

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W.I.L.D. – Wilderness Immersion for Leadership and Discovery, aims is to give youth, especially under-privileged teens, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives. The goal is to motivate them to explore and discover the natural world and understand how experiencing the beauty and challenges inherent in nature can lead to enhancing their self-confidence and developing valuable leadership skills

Our wish is to have their testimonials and experiences reach ​ ​and positively impact other teens and their families and inspire them to Experience the W.I.L.D


1,000-MILE FUNDRAISING PADDLE

For my first W.I.L.D. campaign, I will raise the necessary funds to send a small group of under privileged teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp in Alaska in the summer of 2015. The wilderness immersion camp will be given by the internationally known and extremely well reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.).

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Launching in the third week of August, I will paddle from Victoria on Vancouver Island to San Francisco, a journey of 1,000 miles. The 2 1/2 month paddle will be at the core of a Indiegogo campaign. Click here – INREACH tracking & FACEBOOK, to follow this amazing journey!

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Find out more about how you can contribute and the wonderful rewards you can get. These teens will be changed forever, transformed and more deeply connected with the planet. Lets make this happen!

“The most rewarding part of this course was getting out of my element, and experiencing nature at its fullest.” Thomas W. Southeast Alaska NOLS Sea Kayaking Grad

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STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

Over the course of the next 6 months I will be announcing the launch for my new line of merchandize. Partnering with my sponsors, I will be offering tote bags, merino hoodies, t-shirts, mugs and much more with the mantra STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN on one side and The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit on the other.

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STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN – The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit is the foundation of my narrative and the message behind my work.

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SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL PHOTO GOLD AWARD

August 9th was the opening of the San Francisco International Photo exhibition. My photo LO won one of the GOLD awards. Judged by Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director and Curator, Griffin Museum of Photography, the winning photos are on display at the Gallery Photographica, in San Francisco, 3265 17th Street, near the corner of 17th and Mission Streets, until August 24th.

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ALASKA 2014

It is now my second summer in Alaska. Last year I paddled from Sitka to Hoonah, from Tenekee to Hoonah and hiked around Mendenhall Glacier. This time I decided to return to Juneau and visit the famous brown bears of Pac Creek.

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I then went back to the Mendenhall Glacier but this time kayaking the lake and exploring the icebergs.

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Next stop was the Taku Glacier, up the Taku River. The highlight of this paddle was kayaking at night with the orcas, humpback whales and the plankton blooming. Listen to my radio interview on KTOO, public radio in Juneau.

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Finally, I spent 6 weeks on the island of Kodiak. The first paddle was to the island of Afognak and the second one – a 150-mile paddle down the Pacific coast south of Kodiak. Listen to my radio interview on KMXT Kodiak Public Radio and watch my tv interview on KTUU Alaska channel 4 NBC. Check the KODIAK & JUNEAU PINTEREST for a wonderful photo recap with many bears, minks, glaciers and much more.

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Explorer and Storyteller, Daniel Fox, Believes in the Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit – on ABC

On August 7th, while in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, I was invited to pass by ABC’s studio for a live interview and talk about my work and the photography I did on Antelope Island.

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OUTDOOR RETAILER 2014

Every year I do my best to attend the Outdoor Retailer trade show and reconnect with all my sponsors. This year I had an even bigger reason to attend as my main sponsors Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology had a big wall with my photography and excerpts from my stories. The photos were a great success and comments poured in. From the Press Release:

“…At the Outdoor Retailer trade show next week, we are displaying some of Daniel Fox’s work (see the example in the montage above!) at our booth. It not only serves as a beautiful reminder of why we love to get outside and play, but it just might touch you in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Our goal is to inspire you to explore a world without boundaries and ask you to think about this:  “Isn’t it time you looked at life with a new perspective?…”

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KOKATAT also featured my photography – which appeared in this year’s catalog. Their booth’s front banner had my Owl (top middle), the Morning Reflection (middle center), my photo of professional kayakers Kate Hives (bottom left) and Paul Kuthe (bottom right)

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Voltaic Systems which has been supporting me with solar panels and long lasting batteries had this shot for their full backdrop. What a great presence at this year’s OR!!

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MOUNTAIN KHAKIS

Mountain Khakis has been believing and supporting my work since the beginning. I am honored to be featured in there 2015 catalog! So great being part of such a wonderful team of dedicated people, working relentlessly at delivering the best products. Thank you MK!

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MORE MINUTE OF NATURE

The series now has 24 videos. Watched by thousands, the videos have been the perfect platform to share my insights and the material I find inspirational. Promoting the need to disconnect by being in the moment – even just for 60 seconds, the series is a call for action to find balance in our ever-connected lives.

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MINUTE OF NATURE – CAPE ALITAK
Woody, plant manager at the Alitak Cannery and author of the book “Cape Alitak Petroglyphs: From the Old People” writes about a life changing event as a child while paddling with a whale

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MINUTE OF NATURE – THREE SAINTS HARBOR
The benefits of wilderness immersion, a quote from Casey Lyons at Backpacker Magazine and a myriad of moon jellyfish at Three Saints Harbor, Kodiak Alaska


STAY TUNED & THANK YOU!

I hope to get your support for the W.I.L.D. campaign. Don’t forget to follow the expedition via InReach and Facebook. And most important, find the time in the day to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN. 

W.I.L.D.

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Anyone who I know who enjoys the outdoors or cares for the natural word can recall a time and place in their youth when they found themselves out there in nature and felt that connection, that primal bond that unites us to this planet and to life. For me that connection was so strong that I simply never wanted to let it go. When I was a kid, I just loved to roam the woods, fish the lakes, explore the ponds or climb the trees. It is in these moments that I felt alive. So my best childhood memories are from a great number of summer camps I went to. They were my definition of a candy store. And the things I learned during these magical summers still impact my life today.

I love the work I do and I know that people appreciate it too. But I have always felt that something really important was missing. If these experiences when you are a kid are so important in the development of our appreciation of nature, what was I doing to make sure that they experience the wilderness like I did when I was young? I knew I was not the type the bring children along on my trips but there had to be a way.  A couple of years ago I met Geoff Green and I got to hear from the children themselves how his program Students on Ice had changed their lives. Recently during a paddle, the pieces came together.

I am extremely please to announce the beginning of W.I.L.D. (see press release below) My expeditions and outings will now have for main purpose to raise funds and send underprivileged teens to wildness immersion camps. So to kick off my new venture, I will kayak from Victoria, BC to San Francisco in hope to raise 10K and send 2 teens on a month long sea kayaking NOLS wilderness camp. I plan on starting this 1,000 mile paddle mid-August.

Stay tuned for more news! 

PRESS RELEASE

 

W.I.L.D.

Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discovery

“a 1,000-mile paddle on the Pacific Coast to raise funds and send under-privilege teens to a wilderness immersion camp…”

INTRODUCTION

The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit is the belief that forms the foundation of Daniel Fox’s work. Through his personal experiences in the wilderness, his captivating stories and his “Minute of Nature” video series, he shares with us the impact that being with nature, even if only for a minute, can have on our digitally-driven lives. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes challenging us to stop and reflect, his stories, his photography and his videos help us pause and recall our own experiences with nature.

 

BELIEFS

W.I.L.D. (Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discoveries), a not-for-profit organization, believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology.

Unfortunately many of todays’ youth are immersed in a totally different reality. Living in front of the computer, the television omnipresent and socially connected via smartphones, they spend little time in nature and rarely disconnect from technology. If their lives exist on the “screen” now, it’s unrealistic to think they will have the desire to connect with the natural world as they mature. Yet, humans have always been connected with nature; 99.9% of our evolution comes from living in natural environments and our psychological underpinning is still entrenched in many ways with nature.

It’s interesting to note that the marketing world has leveraged our attachment to nature for a long time, selling products and services aimed at our “green” subconscious or pricing homes and resorts by the sea, in serene remote areas or in the mountains at higher rates than urban properties – bringing the ultimate luxury – being able to disconnect, relax and de-stress from our hectic lifestyle. We seem to have no problem in valuing nature when we need that rare escape but are not as willing to elevate nature as a more regular part of our lives.*

 

AIM

Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, our initial effort is targeted on giving teens, especially under-privileged ones between the ages of 16 and 20, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps. The aim being at helping them wanting to explore and discover the natural world and understand how experiencing the beauty and ultimate challenges, inherent in nature can lead to enhancing their self-confidence and help them develop valuable leadership skills.

Over time, we will be expanding our reach to include college students and business leaders.

 

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGNS

For our first campaign W.I.L.D. will raise the necessary funds to send a group of teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp** in Alaska in the summer of 2015. The wilderness immersion camp will be given by the internationally known and extremely well reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.).

“The most rewarding part of this course was getting out of my element, and experiencing nature at its fullest.” Thomas W. Southeast Alaska NOLS Sea Kayaking Grad

To kick off the campaign, Fox, an avid solo explorer and experienced kayaker who has paddled several hundred miles across all kinds of water will set-off from Victoria, British Columbia and paddle to San Francisco, California along the Pacific Coast. The 1,000-Mile Pacific Coast Paddle will take approximately 2 ½ months to complete.

Throughout his journey, Fox will be stopping along the route, speaking with the media and at events as well as posting his experiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

During his 2½-month expedition, social media and news releases targeted at under-privileged teens and their families will invite them to submit an entry to the competition on why would they want to experience a 30-day sea kayaking wilderness NOLS camp and what they hope to take away from their experience.

To quote Fox:

“No one can possibly understand how impactful and inspiring nature can be until they are actually immersed in it. I want to encourage in these teens an interest in discovering our world, ask them to describe what they think it would be like to step away from their day-to-day world, to feel the beauty and experience the challenges of a non-urban environment. 

We all know the first step in any journey is envisioning it. By having them write about it and describe why they want to be there; having them share what they long for, we have already moved one step closer to bringing nature into their lives. Our goal is to have their testimonials and experiences to reach, and positively impact other teens and their families and inspire them to Experience the W.I.L.D.”     

 

For inquiries contact Daniel Fox daniel@wildimageproject.com

 

ABOUT DANIEL FOX

A Wilderness Systems sponsored sea kayaker, a Kokatat Ambassador, a Deuter Ambassador and a Delorme Ambassador, Fox, a Canadian based in San Francisco, is a storyteller, explorer and photographer. He writes about nature an exploration and shares his experiences with the public through his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. (http://wildimageproject.com)

ABOUT N.O.L.S.

Since legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt founded the school in 1965, more than 230,000 students have graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the leader in wilderness education. Whether through field-based courses offered in some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world or classroom-based courses, the school provides transformative educational experiences to students of all ages. Graduates emerge as active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. To discover the NOLS experience or to bring a course to your business or organization, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.

 

* For additional reference on this topic, you can read more in these books and published articles: Blue Minds by Wallace Nichols, The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Your Brain on Nature by Alan C. Logan. Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California by the American Institutes for Research, Campfire Kids: Going Back to Nature with Forest Kindergartens, NOLS Research Wilderness Immersion Benefits. These all highlight the benefits of spending time with nature. More recently, an article in the Outside magazine, Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning explored how Japan is financially investing in making its citizen spend time in the forest.

** Since 1971, NOLS students have been exploring the wilds of Alaska in sea kayaks. Theres no better way to take in Alaska’s dramatic coastline than by gliding on the water. Read more information about the trip and organization here.

 

Death is Nature

The warm light from the morning spring sun spread over the bay and the mountains like gold dust. The snow up above the tree line was slowly disappearing, the edges of every little ravines and crevasses turning to black – I have always loved the mountains at this time of the year, the contrast of the imagery so dramatic. Everything was magical. The musical notes from a nearby Pacific wren echoed across the bay playing a melody that just reinforced this empyrean moment. As if on cue, a doe and its one year old fawn came out of the woods and started walking onto the beach. The bay was a vast tide flat with a long sand bar that almost geographically cut the bay in two. The tide was rising and soon this landscape of mud, gravel and wet grass would disappear and transform itself. A world dominated by walking and flying creatures would become a world where the ones who can swim rule.

Song of a Pacific Wren

 

The doe walked confident, heading for the tip of the sand bar while the fawn seemed hesitant as the water got closer and the sand path narrower. As they reached the point, I stared, curious to see what they would do – go back, swim perpendicular and head to the beach or swim straight ahead and cross to the other side of the bay. To my surprise the doe simply stayed on course aiming for the shore across. In the water and having swam half of the distance, the young deer stopped and turned around – doubting its capacity to make the short crossing. Looking through my binoculars, I witnessed the distance between the two increase as the mother stayed on her course. Realizing that its attempt to change the course of action hadn’t produced the goal intended, the fawn turned again bearing across, now trailing far behind its mother. While the head of the mother rose above the water, now her feet reaching the bottom, the head of the young deer disappeared and went under. The doe, after shaking the water off her body, scanned the water in search of the little one – so was I through my binoculars. After more than 15 minutes of finding nothing, it became evident that the fawn had drowned. Its mother waited on the shore for another 20 minutes until it slowly walked into the woods, stopping twice and looking back searching for any sign of life. Basking under the sun, the Pacific wren still enchanting my ears, my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea, the serenity still permeating the air, I closed my eyes, relaxed and humble, reminded of the true nature of life. Death is an intricate and essential part of life and nature. In the wilderness it surrounds me and is everywhere I look. Yet, where there is death, life abounds. One can’t exist without the other.

“… Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous – indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.” Richard Dawkins ~ River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

I have written many times of our dysfunctional and gooey perception of nature.

“As much as we want to categorize, compartmentalize, judge, humanize, and beautify nature, for me the “wild” is only one thing – real. Everything is what it is. There are no right or wrong, no bad or good, no judgement. Nothing is pretty, nothing is ugly. A dead tree has as much value as a living one. A fire will benefit some while it will kill others. The prey does everything it can to survive, as does the predator. There are no winners, no losers. No one is more important, yet everyone is connected and interdependent. Nothing is perfect – evolution is this endless chaotic yet harmonious dance where each adjust to the other, over long long long periods of time. Species adapt or disappear. Continents break while others sink. Still, every morning, the sun rises and brings with it life. And even if this sun stops to shine, another one, somewhere else in this huge universe will illuminate another world.” STRIPPED

“Nature is raw, rough, a struggle, a fight, cruel, deadly, strong, destructive, intimidating and yes also amazing, beautiful, relaxing, humbly, and inspirational. Above it all though, it is resilient and a source of priceless teachings. It teaches you about perspective and reminds you that life is not about Us, that there is something bigger than Us, mere little humans. It teaches you about the costs of life, about sacrifices and what it takes to survive. Try to understand what it means for a species to spend most of its life and energy giving birth to hundreds of thousands, even millions, just to have a handful of survivors. While all the dead ones are essential to support a complex food chain that makes this great biodiversity inhabiting the planet possible. There is nothing sad about this because this is life.” WRONG IDEA OF NATURE

“By being so physically disconnected from it, we have totally forgotten what nature really is all about. We even go as far as to personalizing it, characterizing it as a female, “Mother Nature”. This concept of singularity simply doesn’t exist. In the natural world, both constructive and destructive forces are essential. Both the attack and the defense are crucial for survival.” NATURE IS NOT IN YOUR COMPUTER

Nature gives and takes life, it creates and destroys, lifts you up and pins you down, inspires you and depresses you. And this habit of constantly referring to nature as “Mother Nature” totally nauseates me. In fact I truly believe that it sits at the core of what is wrong with our relationship with the world around us and the planet Earth. We see everything separated and unrelated instead of connected and interdependent. We are not nature. Nature is not us. Nature is an entity separated from us. Within nature, we categorize and isolate the elements and the species or create gods and goddesses at our image, so to make sense of what is bigger, bringing everything down to our level – putting the Human as the most important single denominator, the reference to which everything in the universe is compared to. Once we saw the planet earth as the center of the solar system, now we are the center of the universe, of life and of evolution.

The word “nature” derives from Latin nātūra, a philosophical term from the verb for birth, which was used as a translation for the earlier Ancient Greek term phusis which comes from the verb for natural growth. The personification of nature is nothing new but the Greeks were extremely influential for inculcating the myth – Gaia, the great mother of all, the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. So in that matter we associated nature primarily with its ability to give and nurture, leaving the “negative” stuff to other gods, usually of male figure. I am not saying that nature is not caring, cute and lovely but it is surely not what defines it. Nature is this dynamic world that surrounds us, it is life, it is a mix of powerful energies that encompasses everything – us included.

A dead Guanaco on the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina

A dead Guanaco on the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina

 

Wilderness Systems, Minutes of Nature & Bear Encounters

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SPRING NEWSLETTER

What an interesting winter it has been! Unexpected developments demanding reassessment and ultimately turning into profound insights. Needless to say, the last four months have been full of surprises. With Spring around the corner, the foundation is now set to deliver a great deal of content – images, stories and videos. But first lets go over the latest!

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS

I am incredibly happy and proud to announce the sponsorship of WILDERNESS SYSTEMS and ADVENTURE TECHNOLOGY. Winner of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Boat Brand of the Year by Canoe and Kayak Magazine and manufactured in South Carolina, Wilderness Systems’ innovative designs are tuned for performance and quality. Since 1986, they have has pushed the limits of design and innovation by refusing to compromise.

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“Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology products have long provided the tools to access off-the-beaten-path destinations and give people an opportunity to explore their surroundings in a more intimate way,” said Evan Lyendecker, marketing manager for Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology. “The goal of the Wild Image Project is to capture beautiful, remote places for all to experience and then inspire people to connect with their natural world, so it was a natural partnership for us. We are always looking for new ways to expose people to the wild and watery environments we depend on and care about so much, and we believe Daniel’s expedition helps foster that awareness and passion.”

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MINUTE OF NATURE

I have been working on finding a concept of short videos that would support my narrative – THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT. It was during my trip to the Bedwell River that the clarity of what I needed to do came to me.

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Let me explain to you … watch the video below. (click on the image)

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Find out about the intended goal behind the un-edited Minute of Nature – Be in the Moment! (click on the image)

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This idea of sharing with you these moments and inspirational quotes or thoughts is exactly what I have been looking for. The notion of helping you disconnect and leave the modern world behind just for one minute so that your mind can wander away and connect with that part of nature where I was able to “Stop, Breathe, Listen and Relax.” This is exactly what I strive to bring to you.

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VANCOUVER ISLAND

For the last two months, I have been kayaking and exploring the Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The Pacific Northwest is always full of adventures and discoveries and the island hasn’t disappointed.

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I started on Vargas Island just outside of Tofino and followed with the Bedwell Sound. Paddling from Victoria, I crossed the Haro Strait and explored the San Juan Island. Then came a long weekend in Telegraph Cove and Hanson Island.

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There was a wolf encounter, two bear encounters, many raccoons, plenty of rain and winds and some great paddling. Check PINTEREST for a recap.

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PATIENCE

In our culture of instant gratification, the meaning of the word PATIENCE has almost become taboo. Still, from time to time, we are forced to confront its undeniable necessity. Once again, my time in nature was responsible for bringing me perspicuity.

“It has been 15 hours since the heavy rain started. Tucked into my sleeping bag, the sound of the water droplets falling on the tent like an endless drum roll, the clarity of what has been happening these last two months just dawned on me and I just can’t help myself but start laughing. The fact that I had planned to be in Hawaii at this time, diving and kayaking with the humpback whales makes this spiritual awakening even more ludicrous. As much as I would have wanted the reality to be different, the message was clear and all around me – patience needed to be embraced…”  Read the story here

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SISU

Finnish have a word – SISU, which its literal translation is “Having Guts”. But it cannot be translated without understanding its culturally value. It sits at the core of their spirit and has, for hundreds of years, defined who they are and what they strive for.  This story is what happens when you let nature in and experience how it can truly restore the human spirit.

“…Spending a lot of time in nature and on expeditions, your perception of things changes. You stop seeing things in what they could be or could not be. You quickly forget about probabilities, odds and statistics. Your bottom line becomes extremely clear and simple – yes or no, going or not going. I have to eat. I have to find shelter. I have to survive. You might and will debate about what to do or what could be done, but there is only one state of mind – Sisu…”

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SEA KAYAKER

Last July, some friends and I kayaked from Sitka to Hoonah, a 11-day 140 miles journey along Alaska’s coastal wilderness. The story of our adventure, written by Nathaniel Stephens was featured in the magazine Sea Kayaker.

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“…In the morning, as we sipped hot coffee and looked out across the water to the north, two humpback whales breached in unison, launching their massive bodies fully airborne and flopping down in tandem with twin plumes of white spray…”

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Check the photo board on PINTEREST and the video album on VIMEO for a recap of the paddling adventure.

PEEK

I was really happy to be asked by PEEK, a leader in the traveling industry, to contribute to their TASTEMAKERS section. Planning on spending some time on the Big Island of Hawaii? Make sure to read my “PERFECT DAY“.

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MARIN MAGAZINE

“Walking the Wilderness” is a contribution between poet Ushi Patel and I, portraying the beauty of the Marin Headlands located in the Bay Area just across from San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge.

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KOKATAT

Made in the USA, this family-style company has been believing and supporting my work since the beginning. I am honored to be featured in there 2014 catalog! So great being part of such a wonderful team of dedicated people, working relentlessly at delivering the best products.

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THE MIGHTY BUFFALO

My story “The Mighty Buffalo” was featured along with some of my photos in the Bison World, the official publication of the National Bison Association.

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WHAT’S NEXT?

I am now leaving the Vancouver Island and heading north. First stop will be ATLIN, then JUNEAU, maybe the Prince Williams Sound and finally KODIAK ISLAND.

In August I will be in Salt Lake City for the Summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show.

Coming this summer, the announcement for one of my most anticipated projects ever – which will bring my work and impact to whole new level – stay tuned!!

As always, my work wouldn’t possible without the support of my sponsors, a big thank you to all of them! WILDERNESS SYSTEMS, ADVANCE TECHNOLOGY, KOKATAT, SIERRA DESIGNS, DEUTER, MOUNTAIN KHAKIS, DELORME, THULE, SMITH OPTICS, AQUALUNG, SANDISK, DAHLGREN, ICEBREAKER, VOLTAIC SYSTEMS, SEA TO SUMMIT, ROCKY S2V, SPERRY TOP SIDER, SOG, OPTIMUS STOVES, KATADYN

SISU

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Finnish have a word – SISU, which its literal translation is “Having Guts”. But it cannot be translated without understanding its culturally value. It sits at the core of the their spirit and has, for hundreds of years, defined who they are and what they strive for. On the Finlandia University’s website, a page is dedicated at explaining it

 “Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It is a word that cannot be fully translated. It defines the Finnish people and their character.  It stands for the philosophy that what must be done will be done, regardless of cost.  Sisu is an inherent characteristic of the Finnish people. You might call it backbone, spunk, stamina, guts, or drive and perseverance.  It is a measure of integrity that surpasses the hardship and sees through to the end.”

In 1962 English poet Lavinia Greenlaw wrote of Sisu

 To persevere in hope of summer.
To adapt to its broken promise.
To love winter.

To sleep.

To love winter.
To adapt to its broken promise.
To persevere in hope of summer.

It is 7pm and I have about an 30 minutes of light left. I look down and can’t really see my feet – they are somehow lost under a thick canopy of ferns and branches that I have tightly wrapped around my waist. I get a glimpse of the red from my hiking shoes only when I lift them up and take a small step forward. In front of me is a green wall – trees covered by moss and in between shrubs and vines, their branches intertwining with each other so deeply tight that they give the illusion of being only one organism – a living fence! Every time I see an opening is because a mud pond or a muddy creek is revealed. Skunk cabbage is blooming and their yellow lanterns are bringing a certain eerie feeling – as if the brightness and contrast of their sunny flowers were to distract from the undeniable reality that this was a maze from where no one escapes.

Two hours before, after visiting the Red Creek Fir tree, the largest Douglas Fir in the world, I discovered that the oil pan under my car had been busted by a rock and that all the oil had leaked out. There was not a drop left in the engine and although I felt really bad for creating such a disastrous imprint from my visit, my main worry was of a different nature. I was about 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Port Renfrew, a little village with no garage or cell phone coverage where the only gas found was either bought from the marina or from some local guy who sells fuel jars or drive 70km (45 miles) to the nearest town. The road to the tree was a 15km (9m) old logging gravel road that zigzagged through the hills. Most of it was ok for a car with only a few places where extreme caution had to be taken. I thought I had managed my way through but obviously it only takes one well placed blow to make the kill. Bled to death, my car was going no where unless it was being towed.

The situation was not too tragic. I had food supplies and obviously all my camping gear. I could either camp here and wait for someone to come up but being in the off tourist season, I am not sure there would be anyone heading this way for days. The other possibility was to walk back the gravel road. At a walking average of 5km/h (3 mph) it would take me around 3 hours to reach the main paved road. The last option was to walk on an abandoned logging road for a mile, cut through the forest and cross the San Juan River where the paved road was nearby. The distance to the paved road from the abandoned one was only about 1.6 kilometer (just a little over a mile). Because of time and obviously for the short apparent distance, I decided to go with the latter solution – certainly not the safest but I was confident it could be managed.

In case that anyone would somehow show up, I left a note on the car explaining the situation. I took one of my medium size Deuter backpacks and filled it with the essentials. I wanted to be light and quick but also I didn’t really know what was ahead so I had to prepare for some unexpected. The most important was my Delorme InReach. Together with my iPhone, I knew where I was and where I was going and in case of emergency I could always press the rescue button or send text messages via satellite. At 5h30pm, I left the car and started to jog. I needed to cover as much distance as possible while I could. I quickly reached the end of the abandoned road and ahead of me was a little bit of clear cut area with the forest perhaps 50 yards away. The fun was about to begin!

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Every pin represents 10 minutes of traveling

The beginning was your typical new growth forest – sparse trees, shrubs and ferns but as I got closer to the the river, the bushes became thicker and the damp soil became swampy. Maneuvering my way through, I got to the river. At this time of the year, before the spring melt, the San Juan River was relatively low. The flow was still really strong and could easily sweep you off. Studying the topography I looked for a shallow passage across. The shallowness would increase the strength of the current but would give me more stability. I took my socks and shoes off, rolled my pants and proceeded. It didn’t take long for the glacial water to numb my feet and make every step painful. Halfway through, the current was too strong and even though I only had water passed up my knees, my bare feet were too weak to hold a stand. Every small step demanded all the strength in my legs to hold still. I felt that I was just on the verge of loosing my balance. So real slowly I turned around and carefully retreated. I would have to change my approach. I took my pants off and put my shoes back on. At this stage, I would trade dry feet for a steady foot. Finding a place a bit deeper I took another shot. The freezing water violently hit my thighs but my mind was in no mood of dealing with the issue, more concern about keeping myself in control. I was now carrying my backpack on the top of my shoulders with the water passed my waist. Looking ahead, the depth was steady – good! But about 2 meters away the opposite shore, the river took a dip but lucky enough there was a tree right before that was diverting the current. Now with water mid torso, I quickly covered the remaining short distance and climbed up the bank. The skin from below my chest all the way to my toes was bright red as if I had fallen asleep under the sun for hours. The river was now behind. Relieved and with my pants back on, I choose to leave the socks off, in case I would still be in the forest by nightfall, I needed to be able to warm my feet.

There were no trails or even slight openings where I could enter into the woods. There was also no way to search the river bank for one. There was only thing to do, push my way through. Imagine a football field covered with people, packed like sardines, every one with their arms across holding on each other and you have to walk from end to the other carrying a backpack that sticks out above your head. Add a swampy floor littered with dead petrified trees covered in moss that break almost every time you step on them, muddy creeks that suck your boots right off and vines full of thorns that will scratch deep into your skin every chance they have. At 0.70 km/h (0.45 mph) it took me 90 minutes to cover 1 kilometer (0.6 mile). At 7h45 pm I was finally stepping out of the Pacific Northwest rainforest and onto the paved road. An hour after walking on the road direction Port Renfrew, a pickup passed by. Waving my headlamp and arms in the air, the driver agreed to take me into town. The next day, the tow truck* met me at the hotel and together we went to pick up the car. The entire ordeal, from the hotel to the car and to the nearest garage was close to 6 hours. 

Spending a lot of time in nature and on expeditions, your perception of things changes. You stop seeing things in what they could be or could not be. You quickly forget about probabilities, odds and statistics. Your bottom line becomes extremely clear and simple – yes or no, going or not going. I have to eat. I have to find shelter. I have to survive. You might and will debate about what to do or what could be done, but there is only one state of mind – Sisu. However long it takes, whatever it takes, the choice has been made and the only thing left is to do everything you can to reach your destination or achieve your goal. I have to cross that river. I have to reach that paved road. I have to continue my journey. It is not really a question of bravery or fearlessness, but rather a matter of staying focus on the objective with anything in between being irrelevant. It is not about being courageous but about sustaining that courage so that you can keep going. It is what that Red Creek Fir symbolizes – to be able to stand for a thousand years, to grow in an harsh environment and survive wars, logging and the elements.

Sisu is what you become by welcoming nature in. It is why I believe the Finnish have come to define themselves by this word, because of their intricate connection to their environment – with Arctic waters, long winters, endless nights, and piercing winds, one has little choice but to humble himself and focus on the long term goals.

… I have never had the teaching,
Never lived with ancient heroes,
Never learned the tongues of strangers,
Never claimed to know much wisdom.
Others have had language-masters,
Nature was my only teacher,
Woods and waters my instructors… 

The Kalevala, EPILOGUE

*I would like to thank NAPA, BCAA & Eric at TOTEM TOWING for turning this unfortunate event into a breezy one!

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Safe tow!

 

 

 

 

 

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Minute of Nature

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I have been working on finding a concept of short videos that would support my narrative – THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT.

It was during my trip to the Bedwell River that the clarity of what I needed to do came to me.

Let me explain to you … watch the video below.

This idea of sharing with you these moments and inspirational quotes or thoughts is exactly what I have been looking for. The notion of helping you disconnect and leave the modern world behind just for one minute so that your mind can wander away and connect with that part of nature where I was able to “Stop, Breathe, Listen and Relax.” This is exactly what I strive to bring to you.

Here is the first MINUTE, from Ucluelet.

These “Minutes of Nature” will be posted throughout all my social media sites but you are welcome to subscribe to the Vimeo Channel

 

Patience

Breath, Relax, Listen

Breath, Relax, Listen

It has been 15 hours since the heavy rain started. Tucked into my sleeping bag, the sound of the water droplets falling on the tent like an endless drum roll, the clarity of what has been happening these last two months just dawned on me and I just can’t help myself but start laughing. The fact that I had planned to be in Hawaii at this time, diving and kayaking with the humpback whales makes this spiritual awakening even more ludicrous. As much as I would have wanted the reality to be different, the message was clear and all around me – patience needed to be embraced. In our culture of instant gratification, the meaning of this word has almost become taboo. Still, from time to time, we are forced to confront its undeniable necessity. And once again, my time in nature was responsible for brining me perspicuity.

 In our Western society, the word patience denotes a more negative etymology, finding its root in the latin patientia, from patient– ‘suffering’.  But in Asia, the meaning takes a completely different approach and tries to bring forward the ability to wait and find peace, acceptance and dignity in the unexpected and uncontrollable. In China, the pictograph for patience is composed of two symbols – REN which illustrates the Blade of the Knife and XIN for Heart. The meaning being: “The sword blade is poised, ready to slice. Backed into this corner, we cannot move. When we don’t know which way to turn, or where to go, any movement at all can not only further muddy the water but can also bring disaster: the sword blade severs the heart and all is lost. Thus, the value of patience.” (Nonin Showiness) In Japan, the word is NINTAI which can be translated as an “obligation to take another direction”. GAMAN, “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity” is one of the teachings of Zen Buddhist. 

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A day in the tent

The plan was to leave in the morning – paddling back to Tofino. A combination of misjudgment on my behalf and the missing of an adapter to charge my batteries had left me with no more power for the camera. Being on Vargas island to photograph the wolves, my presence here now was simply leading to nothing – I would rather leave than facing the possibility of being presented with a perfect photo opportunity and having no camera to photograph with.

A wolf had appeared to me on the very first day of my arrival – his prints were on the beach, fresh from the morning. After setting up camp, the lone wolf had ventured around my tent. I am always perplexed on the timing of things. How and why we get to be at a precise place at a precise time, precisely when someone or something else happens to be there. Coincidence? Meant to be? A bit of both? In this case, I had been hiking the beach, collecting mussels for dinner when I decided to get something from the tent. Grabbing what I needed, I stood up zipping the tent flap when I noticed right in front of me the wolf coming out through the trees. He was brown and black, tall, the size of a huge dog. But his pose was not aggressive – more like an intruder trying to sneak his way in – this was not an dangerous predator imposing his rule on a newcomer. Maybe it was because he was alone without his pack – we know how humans act differently when by themselves, alone, as opposed to when they feel protected from being in a group. My guess is that the law of collective courage is no different independently if you are wolf or a human. Anyhow, when he saw me, he retreated and I knew in the back of my mind his next destination – the food cache. I silently followed the ruffles of leaves and hid behind a tree. As predicted I saw him coming around to investigate the metal box where my food was stored. Slightly moving to get a better view, I stepped on a branch and the unfortunate breaking noise scared the wolf away. I was not to see any of him for the next five days.

Now that I wanted the leave the island, the weather was not allowing me. And this is how these last two months came to be summarized into this precise moment – in a tent battered by the rain, realizing that all of this was beyond my control. Like the fog lifting and suddenly revealing the unexpected landscape, I was forced to accept the moment. There was nothing I could do but find peace in the unforeseen. Not just about the fact that I was being held captive on Vargas island, but that I had to accept that all my plans for the beginning of 2014 were totally at the opposite of what had actually happened – sheltered from what I had taken from granted, I was being reminded of the fragility of what I had and the price that I had to pay to keep it.

The rain and wind came to pass and the next day, a heavy fog took over and assumed the role of deciding on my captivity. I was not be allowed departure. Only the next day did a window present itself. With a strong northerly wind, my original idea to circumnavigate the island had to be put aside. Pushing with all my might I departed from the beach, turned the point, beating the wind and finding myself in a favorable position, riding the tide and wind, only having to deal with the exposed Pacific.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me. What I do know, is that from sitting into my kayak riding a wave, a river, or the ocean swell, I have control on how to react to the unexpected. I can not predict or even anticipate the unforeseen but  I can be ready to adapt to whatever is thrown my way and have trust in my capacity to handle the flow. The key is to patiently wait, breath, relax and know when to move.

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Nature, Life & Technology

“All of the biggest technological inventions created by man – the airplane, the automobile, the computer – says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.”  Mark Kennedy 

My work is about nature and our intricate connection to it, so why am I here in Munich attending for the second year DLD (Digital Lifestyle Design), a conference that focuses on promoting the benefits of living in a world of data and technology? As much as I would prefer being in the wilderness, by a creek, camera in hand and quietly observing a bear passing by, attending these kind of events is also important. One cannot truly understand the world we live in without seeing where it is going. One cannot understand the challenges we face in our attempt of finding mindfulness without knowing what those challenges are and why they are so enticing. Having a deeper connection to nature and life sounds wonderful but in reality,  things are little bit more complicated. Every one at this conference is trying to make the world a better place. The sense of creativity and ingenuity fueling all these amazing people is breathtaking and commendable. But as much as we love our computers and smart phones, we need to remember that there is more to life than data and technology.

Last year, in my post Concept vs Reality, a Cautionary Tale, I wrote about my worries of a world disconnected physically from reality, entrenched in a culture of concepts.

“From behind our television and our computers, it has become too easy to conceptualize the world, life, ourselves, our issues and our challenges… The beauty of our lives – of Life – does not find its root in numbers, codes and algorithms. Following a recipe to the letter doesn’t mean it will create the perfect dish. It is the human touch that brings the real value.”

In Our Salvation in God Technologius, my concerns were more about our faith in believing that technology would bring salvation, that we were now seeing humans has flawed and replaceable and that we seek spiritual and religious meaningfulness through our iPhones and other devices.

“…We need to take time to ask ourselves: “Is perfection something we should strive for? Or is imperfection the key for happiness?” Are we just a society in denial, buried in work, blinding ourselves with our capacity for the grandiose only to avoid our sickness? Any psychologist or therapist would say so. I do not believe that the key to our happiness and humanity is in our ability to go faster and embrace technology. I do not believe in fast food, diet pills, fake meat and running on the treadmill with glasses that projects a virtual trail. Instead I believe in opening a bottle of wine, inviting friends for a meal, slow cooking a nice roast and planning the next sailing trip… 

… this utopian belief that we will be able to control, for the greater good of humankind, all technology to come, that all the past mishaps will not apply to the future because we are smarter and know better. This naive and false sense of control is troubling. We are simply drunk with our own god complex… 

… Life is not about perfection. It is not about the shortest point between two points. Ask anyone who travels – not for business trips, but to discover new places, new cultures, new experiences – and the most wonderful moments are the unexpected ones, the ones where you get lost and explore the unknown.” 

At DLD this year, I was really happy to see three speakers who were there precisely to talk about the same issues that I have been writing about.

Evgeny Morozov a writer and researcher of Belarusian origin who studies political and social implications of technology, talked about Solutionism and our tendency to expect too much from technology.

Arianna Huffington, who has been busy promoting a new way to defining success (Third Metric) and Paulo Coelho, who wrote the famous book The Alchemist, talked about mindfulness and being able to disconnect.

None of us are promoting the idea that technology is bad or that data is irrelevant. Instead we all want to have an honest and truthful dialogue, a discussion that delves deeper into the realities and consequences from giving our lives away to technology. In other words, we just want to find a certain balance and make decisions that honor our humanity instead of destroying and erasing it. As Oubai Elkerdi puts it so well in his article Rethinking the relationship between culture and technology: “The truth is: the current state of technology is both unsatisfactory and unsatisfying. In many ways it robs us of our humanity much more than it enhances it.”

Life is not about choosing the only things that bring you satisfaction and gratify you. Life is about discovery. It is about realizing that the things we cherish the most are the ones that can’t be quantify. Perfection is boring and beauty lies in the subtle, in the imperfect and in places we try so hard to avoid today. The idea that we are entering a world where people will prefer a relationship with an operating system or a software is deeply troubling. Movies like HER and games like LOVEPLUS are no more science fiction. They are reality! And they bring with them the concept that relationships between humans is too hard, hurtful and complicated. Instead machines will bring us only pleasure, support and love.

“Manaka is the only — could I say person? … She’s the only person that actually supports me in bad times,” says Josh Martinez, a 19-year-old engineering student in Mexico City. He plays LovePlus at least once a day for 20 minutes and considers Manaka his girlfriend of 18 months. “When I feel down or I have a bad day, I always come home and turn on the game and play with Manaka,” Martinez says. “I know she always has something to make me feel better.”

The time I spend in nature teaches me about what is important in life. Through my stories like TIME, DREAMS, DISRUPTION, WAIT &  STRIPPED  I try to communicate and illustrate how the POWER OF NATURE RESTORES THE HUMAN SPIRIT – how through a better understanding of life and what nature is, one can find mindfulness. The goal is not to strip away the hardships of life but rather finding peace in the process.

As our lives become more dependent and intertwined with technology, we have to make a conscious effort not to loose sight on what is it that makes us humans. There is more to life than technology and data. Like any species, we are not flawed. We are nature and we are in constant evolution. We are a species that has mastered adaptation. We rise and hope even in the worst of moments. We create, sing, paint and write. We love and sympathize. We are complex entities that result from our upbringing and ancestry. What we are not, is just a series of zeros and ones.

“…You may think that I am the future. But you’re wrong. You are. If I had a wish, I wish to be human. To know how it feels to feel, to hope, to despair, to wonder, to love. I can achieve immortality by not wearing out. You can achieve immortality simply by doing one great thing…”

“… thank you for teaching us that falling only makes stronger…”

The Mighty Buffalo

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior

The massive animal was only a few yards away; his height doubled any of the bushes around. If I was to stand beside him, the top of his hump would still be a foot above my head. I was sitting on the ground and my eyes were to the level of his. He carried on one his horns a branch that he had snatched away just a few minutes earlier after scratching his furry head onto the trunk of a sagebrush. This improvised crown gave him a sense of notoriety and aristocracy that perhaps was due for official recognition. This herbivore had indeed once been the king of this land. It was only proper formality for me to bow in front of a surviving royal.

A little less than an hour ago, he had come from over the hill when he had seen me sitting on the grass, right in his path. Over the next sixty minutes he would stare at me for a while, trying to determine the level of threat I was representing; he then pretended eating, walking forward a bit, looking up, staring, and starting the ritual again. As he slowly passed by me, his gaze locked into mine. Obvious by its size, one would only truly realize the scale of its two-ton weight every time he lifted up one of its hooves to reveal a deep ravine print in the sand.

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The Unsung King

As often as it is the case with all my travels, my presence on the island had more to do with fate than anything else. Earlier in the year, while visiting a dear friend in Logan Utah, and looking for a nearby place to hike, she had suggested that we visit Antelope Island State Park — a wonderful 28,800 acres island located just outside Salt Lake City — and home to one of the largest wild herds of buffalos in North America. I remember standing on the top of Sentry Peak looking over Salt Lake and telling myself that I ought to come back soon and spend more time. The place had so much beauty and was filled with culture and history; it felt as if this land was connected to something ancestral, perhaps it was the presence of some of oldest rocks in the United States, or the Fielding Garr Ranch with the oldest (Anglo) building in Utah, still on its original foundation, or the free roaming buffalos, but something was calling me.

After my kayaking expedition in Alaska, I was looking for one last project to end the year with; something that would be close to home and would offer me the possibility of doing what I cherish the most: photograph big wildlife (See Totems). It was at that moment that another friend gifted me with the book “A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West” by R. D. Rosen. The timing was perfect and it became quite obvious what I needed to do; to go back to Antelope Island.

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Top of Sentry, looking over Salt Lake

It is believed that the first Bison bison came from Asia over the Bering Land Bridge about 500,000 years ago. Before the arrival of the Europeans, in 1492, it is estimated that their numbers were somewhere between 40 and 60 million. Unfortunately, the conquering of the Native Americans and of the West, led to one of the greatest animal slaughters in human history. By 1890, only 750 bison were left — the equivalent of killing roughly 360 buffalos every day for 400 years. 1872, ‘73 and ‘74, are known to be the bloodiest years in the recorded slaughter of the bison. More than 4,500,000 of them were killed during these three years alone, which averages to about 4,110 every day.

The buffalos were one of the most important pillars of the Native American culture.

“The buffalo gave us everything we needed. Without it we were nothing. Our tipis were made of his skin. His hide was our bed, our blanket, our winter coat. It was our drum, throbbing through the night, alive, holy. Out of his skin we made our water bags. His flesh strengthened us, became flesh of our flesh. Not the smallest part of it was wasted. His stomach, a red-hot stone dropped into it, became our soup kettle. His horns were our spoons, the bones our knives, our women’s awls and needles. Out of his sinews we made our bowstrings and thread. His ribs were fashioned into sleds for our children, his hoofs became rattles. His mighty skull, with the pipe leaning against it, was our sacred altar. The name of the greatest of all Sioux was Tatanka Iyotake–Sitting Bull.” John Fire Lame Deer

This intricate connection made them a prime target – “Kill the buffalo and you kill the Indians” General Philip H. Sheridan said in 1866 when he took command of U.S. forces in the West, proposing to bring peace to the plains by exterminating the herds of buffalo that support the Indians’ way of life.

Conservation efforts and the slow coming back of the American Bison in the United States of America and Canada might bring hope for the animal’s future but the truth remains, the survival struggle of the bison is far from over. The recent culling at Yellowstone (NY Times 2008NY Times 2011) and the debate around brucellosis demonstrate how for many, the animal is still a culprit that needs to be exterminated. For ranchers, they are simply a pest that eats away precious resources which should be utilized only for their cattle. (See Buffalo War on PBS)

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A visitor

I spent more than three weeks on Antelope Island. On my first evening, four bison came running down the hill and galloped just a few feet away from my tent. I was by the picnic table preparing dinner with my head lamp turned on when I heard a loud noise and looked up — four pairs of eyes glistering in the dark. One dawn at 4am, I heard one passing within reach from my tent. Its humongous shadow casted against the fabric wall, as a result of the full moon that night. I could hear and feel his breath as if he was breathing over my neck. Another day, while I sat in the grass field, a small herd of around 25 cows and calves bison came upon me. As they got closer and closer, I chose not to move and started talking to them. I strongly believe that the voice carries energy that can calm, stress or anger. The herd came around and formed a line behind me. I slowly turned around, always sitting, and always talking. They were, of course, nervous, breathing fast with their eyes wide open and alert, but none were showing aggressive behavior. A few minutes had passed when a late arrival showed up and decided to change the mood. Whether he was showing off or not was not my concern. Its tail was up, his hoof was pounding the ground and his grunt was aimed at me. Keeping my calm, I slowly turned to face him. Raising my finger at him, much like a parent would do to reprimand a child, I changed the tone of my voice and with much fierceness told him: “You! Over there, shut it!” To my relief, he lost his stand, stopped his grunting and joined the others… behind the group.

Interestingly enough, my greatest surprise during my stay was to realize how they were all so different from one another. Before starting to photograph them, I thought they all look quite alike. But spending every day with them and looking at the photos taken, their differences became obvious. There personalities contrasted greatly. There horns differ. Some had triangular heads, others were rectangular. Many carried what appeared to be a puffy “toupee”. Some heads were black and some were brown.

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All quite different!

I went there to meet and discover an old soul, and I did. According to the Natives and in the belief that animals carry messages, the buffalo is about holding your prayers resolute and firm; giving thanks continually that your prayers have already been answered in the most abundant way possible. They say that buffalo medicine has a sacred connection with the Earth (Great Spirit) because they continue to aid, assist and provide God’s children on earth.

I live in a world where I will never be able to experience the abundance of wilderness that existed centuries ago. I can only close my eyes and imagine what it was like when they ruled the plains. Those ones who accepted me there gave me much to ponder on; for a species that almost disappeared, they are still around to tell their story, a story of hope and togetherness. Yes we brought them down, but we also brought them back up, and in the process bringing ourselves up. And that gives me hope for the future, for our future. We might, and are heading towards an existential crisis as a species, but I know we will come out stronger and wiser. That is what the buffalo told me.

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An old soul

 

The Legend of the Great Flood

“I have heard it told on the Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Seminole camps in the Florida Everglades, I have heard it from the Eskimos north of the Arctic Circle and the Indians south of the equator. The legend of the flood is the most universal of all legends. It is told in Asia, Africa, and Europe, in North America and the South Pacific.”

Professor Hap Gilliland of Eastern Montana College was the first to record this legend of the great flood. This is one of the fifteen legends of the flood that he himself recorded in various parts of the world.

He was an old Indian. His face was weather beaten, but his eyes were still bright. I never knew what tribe he was from, though I could guess. Yet others from the tribe whom I talked to later had never heard his story. 

We had been talking of the visions of the young men. He sat for a long time, looking out across the Yellowstone Valley through the pouring rain, before he spoke. “They are beginning to come back,” he said. 

“Who is coming back?” I asked.

“The animals,” he said. “It has happened before.” 

“Tell me about it.’

He thought for a long while before he lifted his hands and his eyes. “The Great Spirit smiled on this land when he made it. There were mountains and plains, forests and grasslands. There were animals of many kinds–and men.” 

The old man’s hands moved smoothly, telling the story more clearly than his voice.

The Great Spirit told the people, “These animals are your brothers. Share the land with them. They will give you food and clothing. Live with them and protect them.

“Protect especially the buffalo, for the buffalo will give you food and shelter. The hide of the buffalo will keep you from the cold, from the heat, and from the rain. As long as you have the buffalo, you will never need to suffer.”

For many winters the people lived at peace with the animals and with the land. When they killed a buffalo, they thanked the Great Spirit, and they used every part of the buffalo. It took care of every need. 

Then other people came. They did not think of the animals as brothers. They killed, even when they did not need food. They burned and cut the forests, and the animals died. They shot the buffalo and called it sport. They killed the fish in the streams.

When the Great Spirit looked down, he was sad. He let the smoke of the fires lie in the valleys. The people coughed and choked. But still they burned and they killed.

So the Great Spirit sent rains to put out the fires and to destroy the people.

The rains feil, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded valleys to the higher land.Spotted Bear, the medicine man, gathered together his people. He said to them, “The Great Spirit has told us that as long as we have the buffalo we will be safe from heat and cold and rain. But there are no longer any buffalo. Unless we can find buffalo and live at peace with nature, we will all die.”

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded plains to the hills.

The young men went out and hunted for the buffalo. As they went they put out the fires. They made friends with the animals once more. They cleaned out the streams.

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded hills to the mountains.Two young men came to Spotted Bear. “We have found the buffalo,” they said. 

“There was a cow, a calf, and a great white bull. The cow and the calf climbed up to the safety of the mountains. They should be back when the rain stops. But the bank gave way, and the bull was swept away by the floodwaters. We followed and got him to shore, but he had drowned. We have brought you his hide.”

They unfolded a huge white buffalo skin. 

Spotted Bear took the white buffalo hide. “Many people have been drowned,” he said. “Our food has been carried away. But our young people are no longer destroying the world that was created for them. They have found the white buffalo. It will save those who are left.” 

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded mountains to the highest peaks.

Spotted Bear spread the white buffalo skin on the ground. He and the other medicine men scraped it and stretched it, and scraped it and stretched it. 

Still the rains fell. Like all rawhide, the buffalo skin stretched when it was wet. Spotted Bear stretched it out over the village. All the people who were left crowded under it.

As the rains fell, the medicine men stretched the buffalo skin across the mountains. Each day they stretched it farther. 

Then Spotted Bear tied one corner to the top of the Big Horn Mountains. That side, he fastened to the Pryors. The next corner he tied to the Bear Tooth Mountains. Crossing the Yellowstone Valley, he tied one corner to the Crazy Mountains, and the other to Signal Butte in the Bull Mountains. 

The whole Yellowstone Valley was covered by the white buffalo skin. Though the rains still fell above, it did not fall in the Yellowstone Valley. 

The waters sank away. Animals from the outside moved into the valley, under the white buffalo skin. The people shared the valley with them. 

Still the rains fell above the buffalo skin. The skin stretched and began to sag.

Spotted Bear stood on the Bridger Mountains and raised the west end of the buffalo skin to catch the West Wind. The West Wind rushed in and was caught under the buffalo skin. The wind lifted the skin until it formed a great dome over the valley.

The Great Spirit saw that the people were living at peace with the earth. The rains stopped, and the sun shone. As the sun shone on the white buffalo skin, it gleamed with colours of red and yellow and blue. 

As the sun shone on the rawhide, it began to shrink. The ends of the dome shrank away until all that was left was one great arch across the valley. 

The old man’s voice faded away; but his hands said “Look,” and his arms moved toward the valley.

The rain had stopped and a rainbow arched across the Yellowstone Valley. A buffalo calf and its mother grazed beneath it.

Big Sur, the Mighty Buffalo & Holiday Wishes!

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WINTER NEWSLETTER

2013 is almost over and three months have already passed since the last newsletter. We are all about to enter the holidays to celebrate and spend time with the ones we cherished and care for. Before I give you my wishes, lets take a minute and go over the latest and what you can expect for 2014.

NEW WEBSITE

I am proud to announce that The Wild Image Project is starting 2014 in style with a brand new website! Created by photographer and good friend Flemming Bo Jensen and his partner Charlene Winfred of Coffee and Magic, the website does a wonderful job at capturing the essence of my work. The navigation is easy and intuitive and social media has been incorporated to support the narrative. Don’t be shy and click!

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MIGHTY BUFFALO

I recently had the amazing opportunity of spending three weeks at the Antelope Island State Park, located in Utah, just outside Salt Lake City. The park is known for the American Bison which was introduced to the island back in 1893. What started with 14 individuals is now, today, more than 500, one of the biggest free roaming buffalo populations in North America.

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This legendary animal was sacred to the Native Americans. For them, the bison was a symbol of life and abundance. In many myths, the bisons gave themselves up willingly as a food source for humans. In others their spirits brought sacred knowledge about medicine or peace pipes to humankind. In many cautionary tales, buffalo hunts were unsuccessful due to the hunters’ lack of respect to the buffalo. My goal was to capture the “Buffalo Spirit“. You can see the resulting photography here.

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DISRUPTION

Why do we live in a culture that doesn’t embrace disruption? Since everything that we love and appreciate is rooted in it. After a stormy day and an unforgettable encounter, I reflect on the topic, wondering if we are not stripping our lives from what is precisely making them exciting.

Read my latest story, “DISRUPTION, THE NATURE OF LIFE

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STRIPPED

“…Sitting on that log, with my empty cup of tea, nothing feels out of place. I don’t feel out of place. The humility brought by the simplicity I find myself surrounded by is relaxing, refreshing and gives me hope. Real and honest is what nature is to me. It is a constant reminder of the true essence of what life is about. It is my source of inspiration, my elixir for meditation and my most profound teacher.” 

STRIPPED is a story about letting go and being in the moment as we juggle with our modern lifestyle, expectations and work duties.

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ROZ SAVAGE INTERVIEW

Roz is to ocean exploration what Kelly Slater is to surf. Not only has she paddled across every single ocean on the planet, but she decided to “start” her explorer career at an age when usually everyone else chooses to forgo their dreams and accept their given fate. Over the years, Roz Savage and I have become good friends and every time our complicated lives manage to cross each other, we always cherish long philosophical conversations. Emailing me from London, she invited me for another conversation and asked if I wanted to be on her next “Adventure Podcast”. After some logistics and scheduling, we found ourselves a couple of days later connected over Skype. Here is the interview. Be ready for some philosophical talk about exploration, conservation and photography.

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MARIN MAGAZINE

TOTEMS is a photo feature that was published in the Marin Magazine issue of October.  I was asked to write about my creative process and what was I pursuing while photographing nature. Read more here.

“… this collection is my attempt to present these animals with respect and honor. My goal is not to beautify or humanize them but rather to recognize their respective success of survival in relation to a humbling way of looking at the world that I fear is on the verge of disappearing.”

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OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER MAGAZINE

“Behind the shot” is a column in the magazine Outdoor Photographer that goes behind the scene of some spectacular photograph, explaining how the image came to be. One of my bison photographs was recently featured. Read more here.

“…until he walked just about 20 feet from where I was sitting. He stopped by a bush right behind where he proceeded to scratch his furry head. I sat there mesmerized by its presence and the depth of his look, trying to understand what was the threat that so many saw in this creature. After taking my photos, I thanked him for his time and cooperation and slowly departed…”

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LIFE’S STORIES FROM MEMORY

Sandisk recently asked to be be part of their ‘s campaign “Life Stories from Memory“. Their products are really important for my work. I travel light, by myself, and am gone for long periods of time – so everything I have in my bag must be extremely reliable – if not bulletproof! The days have drastically changed since film and it is still hard to remember a time when your biggest investment and hassle was to carry, protect and process long rolls of fragile films. Nowadays, with my SanDisk Extreme Pro I can spend all my energy on pushing my photography to new places. My fingers will be frozen, my feet will be burning, the sun will scorch or the wind will roar, yet I know I don’t have to worry one second about where my work is being stored.More stories are coming up soon, but for now, the first one is about my last trip in Utah – SEEING EYE TO EYE WITH A BUFFALO. Next will be LAVA and TOTEMS

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“… My goal was to create an abstract and artistic representation of the lava’s intensity. Compared to the free flow of lava, active and fast, these clefts are the result of a constant but slow force. One fracture at a time, earth is moved forward to form new landscapes, erasing old ones behind. Invisible at day, their presence and intensity is only revealed at night, cracking the dark world open, light a lightning splitting the sky in pieces.” Story coming soon

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“…When I photograph animals, I don’t hide from them, I want them to see me. I want them to “give me the shot”, instead of me “taking the shot”. I want their eyes to look into mine. I want them to tell me who they are. I want that non-verbal ancestral communication, that place where no words are needed and only the sense of commonality is felt. It is not an attempt beautify or humanize the animals but rather to recognize their respective success of survival in relation to our own mortality.”  Story coming soon

2014

Next year is looking to be incredible! There are many expeditions on the table – HAWAII, KODIAK ISLAND, GRAND TETONS, YELLOWSTONE and the CHANNEL ISLANDS. Everything will be confirmed in January – stay tuned.
Also in the works are a photography SHOW in San Francisco, a coffee table BOOK with a poetry writer, a photo PROJECT on the Farralon Islands and a photo portrait SERIES at an animal refuge in Florida.

So exciting!!

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HOLIDAY WISHES

“In this century we have made remarkable material progress, but basically we are the same as we were thousands of years ago. Our spiritual needs are still very great.”  Dalai Lama

Let us all remember that despite the attraction of technology and the temptation of simplifying the depth of our relationships to those of robots, we must never forget the magic of nature and the beings that we are. We are more than algorithms and statistics. Lets not loose faith in our capacity for spiritual greatness and move on into the future with the desire of finding inner peace and content. I will see you again in 2014!

HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY, A MERRY CHRISTMAS & A WONDERFUL HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

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Disruption, the Nature of Life

“The end is the beginning of all things, suppressed and hidden, awaiting to be released through the rhythm of pain and pleasure.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

The wind has been blowing steady at 25mph all morning. The mountains around, which on any other normal day can be seen reaching out to the sky are cut in half by a dull blanket of featureless clouds. My tent anchored in solidly is bending every time a gust comes rushing by. The magpies and crows are flying low while the gulls seem to truly enjoy this treacherous air. The Great Salt Lake, normally with its water flat and still like a mirror, is covered with foot high waves. Interestingly enough though, as if purposely playing tricks for a seemingly obvious weather forecast, the Rabbitbrushes and Sage Brushes are barely moving – their coarse branches specially adapted for this harsh, windy and dry environment. The warmth and quietness of yesterday was now replaced by a cold and noisy today.

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The little fortress of rocks built around my stove didn’t do much in stopping the fluidity of the wind and I was left with little choice but to improvise if I wanted to have my morning tea and oatmeal. I popped the trunk of the car open, moved the equipment around and set the kitchen there – now protected in this beacon of modern transportation.

In some bizarre fashion, I love these moments when you are reminded that the beautiful and precious you had is never to be taken for granted. Disruption is the foundation of happiness and it is the way the world and nature works. The key is to accept the unexpected and understand that the “ups” are only appreciated because they are relative to the “downs”. Life would be boring if it was constantly positive, independently how amazing it is. Which reminds me of John Maeda’s book “Simplicity”, where he defends that it is the complex moments in life we love, not the simple ones.

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Everything that we cherish is rooted in disruption. Think about it for a second. The spices in my food, the color in my room, the decorations in a christmas tree – they all disrupt an initial simple state and make it more exciting. It is the clouds in an monotonous sky that make a sunset or sunrise truly amazing. A straight road might bring a little speed, but the real pleasures of driving come with the curves and turns. Point taken, these are small on the disruptive scale, but the way of dealing with them is no different then with the more challenging events. The secret is to realize that disruptions are not meant to be avoided but rather to be explored and appreciated. They expend one’s mind, bring new experiences and make you appreciate the things and people you care for. Too much or too little disruption is only a question of perspective.

“I like learning stuff. The more information you can get about a person or a subject, the more you can pour into a potential project. I made a decision to do different things. I want to do things that have a better chance of being thought of as original. I do everything I can to disrupt my comfort zone.” Brian Grazer, film producer

When our ancestors moved around, nomadic not by choice but by necessity, life was a constant adaption to endless disruptions. The world around them changed, seasons came and go, and with it the understanding of living in a dynamic world. As we became sedentary, no longer adapting ourselves to our environment instead transforming it to our needs, our view of the world changed to a more static one. We started to separate ourselves from nature and what had been so far a world we “lived in” became a world we needed to escape, conquer and control.

Today, with technology, more estranged from nature and the realities of life than ever before, disruptions are the enemy, members of the axis of evil, threatening our sanitized culture. Instead of embracing them and their power of discovery, we do everything to eliminate them. Instead of inspiring and teaching people to find the positive in situations that are mostly unwanted, we propagate the message that life is unfair and that there must be someone to blame.

We have heard many times of people who have said that cancer, how unfortunate and destructive it is, was the best thing that had happened to them. How many times did we fear the end of a relationship only to admit later of its misery and how much life was better since. How do you think we have evolved and survived? Adaptation and disruption go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. We shouldn’t dismiss the gravity of the changes that are upon us today as our impact is threatening our own existence, but we can’t allow ourselves to think that this is the end. The best is always to come, cause I refuse to think that it should be used in the past term.

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The day was coming an end and even as I entered the tent to discover the interior and sleeping bag covered in dust, I smiled, remembering how the day had turned out despite the stormy weather. The bland day light and dusty air wasn’t really interesting to photograph so instead I hung out with the Park Manager as he took me around the island – beyond the gates, and told me about the fascinating history of this place. But the surprise of the day was when I went into town for lunch. I knew that dinner would be wet and windy so I wanted to give myself at least a “proper” meal. It was on my way out that I noticed a coyote walking by the water. For the last two weeks I had found it impossible to approach them – they were always on the move and would quickly disappear the minute they would see me. I got out of the car and walked down to the water’s edge, hoping the coyote would keep his direction and pass by me. Perhaps it was because of the strong wind, who knows, but even though he noticed my presence really early he kept trotting his course and finally came within 10 feet of where I was sitting. It was the only time during my stay on the island that I was able to photograph a coyote the way I wanted. Hadn’t been for the wind and rain, this encounter wouldn’t have never happened. Had the day been sunny and beautiful, this photograph would have never been created.

“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”  Zhuangzi

Stripped

It happens every time, and independently if I want it or not, I find myself pulled into it. Parked at the Big Sur Station, I am getting my equipment ready. The plan is to hike to Syke Camp, spend a couple of nights there then one night on the beach and finally hike a 3,000 feet peak nearby. I should be excited, thrilled and relaxed, but instead I am anxious and worried. I try to focus on making sure that I don’t forget anything – I would really hate finding out that I have forgotten a lens or battery for the camera after a 5-hour hike and having to return. Despite all my previous stories written, despite all the photos that I have taken, despite the fact that deep down I know that it always works out, I can’t stop but stress about the uncertainty on if I will be able to find something to write about or find a nice landscape to photograph. Will I be inspired? If so, about what? Will the light be good? Will I see animals? Will the weather cooperate? And what if I don’t have anything to show by the end of the week? My last story, TIME, was written many months ago in Hawaii. I have since been twice in Alaska, kayaking and hiking a glacier, and even though both were incredible expeditions, I failed to come back with new words. Knowing the reasons why the page has remained blank doesn’t help either.

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Pine Ridge Trail

The creative process is one of the hardest things to find. And even more challenging is to protect that process as the world around you changes. Inspiration is complicated and some are more famous for their bizarre rituals then for their own art.

I love being on expedition – having a set target, a destination to reach, a goal, but it is not what I live and work for. The content that I produce during these adventures is more descriptive – narrating the days, the progression, the ups and downs, the struggles encountered and the magical moments witnessed. It is premeditated. Inspiration is not really the most important aspect, but rather your ability to deliver the story, to capture the local flavors.

What I long for as an artist is much different. It is when I have the feeling, the sensation that the inspiration has come to me rather than me seeking it. It is that sense of being connected to something else, something bigger. As alone as one can be when creating, knowing that you are only a channel through which your environment expresses itself brings a total different perspective – the loneliness disappears and a deep fulfilling connectedness lives – bringing along a sense of purpose.

I am 2 hours into the hike and my mind is still stuck in that parking lot. I am walking the trail much like I would walk the sidewalks of New York – focused on the destination and shutting myself to everything else in between – a self defense mechanism we have had to developed to protect ourselves from the constant and relentless assault on our senses from our modern lifestyle. Instead of enjoying the moment, I feel heavy and distracted. Layers of anxiety rooting from our civilized, moral and intellectual culture weighing on me. My ears are open but don’t hear anything. My eyes are open but can’t see anything. My body is tensed, preoccupied with every uphill steps I have to make. The Ventana Wilderness is full of wonders with majestic Redwoods and beautiful Pacific Madrones, yet, my head looks down – I am a man walking his purgatory! After 5 hours, I arrive at the destination tired but wired. Where are the hot springs, where to camp? Quick lets get to work – what can I photograph? I can’t rest. This is work and I must produce!

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Syke Camp

It is 6pm – the tent is up, the backpack emptied, the hot springs have been located and already “enjoyed”. The kettle is on the stove. I am camping on this tiny “island” in the middle of the Big Sur River, a magical set up, yet I am totally oblivious to my surroundings. I am pacing frantically. The steam shoots out from the kettle and I am slow to realize the water is ready. So much for someone who is supposed to be “one” with nature – pathetic!

I take my cup of mate tea and sit on a log that rests slightly above the river, bridging my campsite to the north shore. My feet hang with my toes dipping in the frigid running water. I take a sip. Then I take a deep breath. Another sip – another breath. Finally, the moment I have been unconsciously waiting for is starting to manifest itself.

Like the afternoon wind pushing away the morning fog, with every new sip and every new breath, my comatose state starts fading. Free of their societal constraints, my senses awaken from their lethargy. My back arches up. My chest opens up. My ears start tingling to the sound of water swirling around the rocks. My eyes start seeing for the first time an American Dipper just a few feet away, diving for a few second then reappearing with a nymph in its beak. My lungs are beginning to feel lighter. My mind is clear. My heartbeat has slowed down, yet I remain extremely sharp. By the time my tea is finished, everything feels new and fresh – alive. In reality though, it is me who has changed, it is me who is alive now. I was closed and sequestered, now I am freed and attuned. I have finally found the state of mind I came here for. And with it came my inspiration. Thought by thought, sentence by sentence, words have come back. Stripped from the confinement of technology and cultural expectations, I was finally at peace with simply one thing – being.

“Nature is pleased with simplicity.” — Isaac Newton

“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” — Oscar Wilde

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Sunset from 3,000ft

As much as we want to categorize, compartmentalize, judge, humanize, and beautify nature, for me the “wild” is only one thing – real. Everything is what it is. There are no right or wrong, no bad or good, no judgement. Nothing is pretty, nothing is ugly. A dead tree has as much value as a living one. A fire will benefit some while it will kill others. The prey does everything it can to survive, as does the predator. There are no winners, no losers. No one is more important, yet everyone is connected and interdependent. Nothing is perfect – evolution is this endless chaotic yet harmonious dance where each adjust to the other, over long long long periods of time. Species adapt or disappear. Continents break while others sink. Still, every morning, the sun rises and brings with it life. And even if this sun stops to shine, another one, somewhere else in this huge universe will illuminate another world.

Independently if we believe and speak about it as a separate entity, in reality we are no different than nature. Quite the opposite, we are nature, and we are intricately part of it. We are nothing more than a footnote in the grand scheme of evolution. Yet we have come to believe that everything revolves around us – that everything is about US. Our view of the world is no different then when we thought that the earth was the center of the galaxy. Instead now we see ourselves as the center of Life, of the Universe.

In our quest to conquer – not only territorially, but intellectually and morally, we have lost our connection to the world around us, to the planet and to life. We also have lost our ability to look at our environment (the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates) and learn from it. We no longer look at nature and use it to understand life – instead we see nature and life as flawed systems that need to be corrected and reengineered under our own perception of what it should be. We see ourselves as great saviors with god powers!

Our myopia and shortsightedness have made us inefficient and incapable of looking at the bigger picture. We focus on details, obsessing about single events, while loosing perspective of everything else around. Our expertise at extracting data from pretty much anything – important or not, trivial or useless, has transformed our world into an intellectual dump. Buried under so much information and incapable of managing it, we look at technology as our only hope. Completely lost and feeling powerless, we blindly put our salvation into machines and their ability to “process” – because the only way we can make sense of anything is through numbers, equations, statistics and graphs. Common sense is no longer valued unless it can be measured and quantified.

Sitting on that log, with my empty cup of tea, nothing feels out of place. I don’t feel out of place. The humility brought by the simplicity I find myself surrounded by is relaxing, refreshing and gives me hope. Real and honest is what nature is to me. It is a constant reminder of the true essence of what life is about. It is my source of inspiration, my elixir for meditation and my most profound teacher.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Sunset from the beach

Sunset from the beach

Alaska’s Wilderness, Dolphins, Volcano & much more

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FALL NEWSLETTER

I am continually asked to share what I’m working on; my expeditions, my photography and my appearances, so with that in mind I’m introducing the first edition of the Quarterly Wild Image Project Newsletter. The Newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date on not only where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, but also to let you know about upcoming expeditions, photographic engagements and appearances.

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WELCOME

What a great year it has been so far! It’s now the end of summer and fall is just around the corner. What follows is a snapshot, literally and figuratively speaking, of my work to date.

EXPRESS NATIONALS 27

I was invited to photograph the 2013 Express 27 Nationals, held this year in the San Francisco Bay and hosted by the Richmond Yacht Club. If you’re not familiar with the Express 27, it an ultra-light displacement sloop designed by Carl Schumacher. It was built by Terry Alsberg at Alsberg Brothers Boatworks in Santa Cruz, California from 1981 to 1988.

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My intent with this assignment was to capture the excitement and intensity of the race and the competitive spirit of the racers. The green waters of the bay and the urban background were a challenge for the artistic vision I had so I desaturated the photos, keeping only the reds, yellows and blues. While increasing the highlights and whites allowed me bring focus on the sails and boats.

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Want to see more … go here on Behance or if you are interested in purchasing prints, please contact the Studio – studio – wildimageproject.com

IN SEARCH OF AN ILL FATED LANDING

On July 18th, fellow explorer Nathaniel Stephens and I set off on a kayak expedition along the Pacific coastline of Alaska. This route had always been of interest to us for two reasons: finding the Petroglyph Rocks at Surge Bay believed to be associated with the ill-fated Bering/Chirikov Expedition landing of 1741 and scouting the route for future commercial expeditions.

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We followed the Pacific Coast of the Chichagof Island, starting from Sitka. From there we voyaged our way north to Hoonah, covering 140 miles through Alaska’s pristine waters, following the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness, part of the Tongass National Forest. It is the largest national forest in the United States with most of its area part of the “perhumid rainforest zone, Earth’s largest remaining temperate rainforest. Made up primarily of western red cedar, sitka spruce, and western hemlock, the land spreads over thousands of islands and is home to animals that are barely found anywhere else in North America, including a group of brown bears more closely related to polar bears than to other living brown bears. Besides being of great environmental value, the area is extremely rich in cultural history – more than 10,000 years ago, the Tlingit people settled here.

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You can watch my TV interview on KATH-TV and listen to our KTOO Public Radio interviews before and after the expedition.

Want to see more, visit the daily recap on FACEBOOK, photos on PINTEREST and INSTAGRAMvideos on VIMEO and an article in SIDETRACKED magazine.

Our expedition will also be featured in the SEA KAYAKER Nov/Dec issue.

PELE’S BLOOD

I had heard about the Hawaiian islanders spiritual belief in PELE, the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes who, it is believed, lives in the Halema’uma’u crater, at the summit of Kilauea, Hawaii’s most active volcano. Its lava continually flows reshaping the Big Island’s Kalapana southwest landscape. The islanders believe the melted rock is the blood of the Goddess and while this incredible display of earth’s power attracts thousands of tourists every year, for them it is a constant reminder of their origins and how their land came to be. So in June, I journeyed to the Big Island in hope of discovering and experiencing this sacred connection.

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My creative process is always the same; immerse myself into my surroundings, absorb its energy and let its spirit ignite and guide my work. Hiking the treacherous lava field of Puna almost every night, I came to understand and felt the sacredness of the place. TIME is result of this connection. It is a story about our perception of time in relation to what is, in simple terms, the cause responsible for this world we now try hard to protect.

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While most volcano photography focuses on free flows and wide landscapes, I wanted to create an abstract and artistic perspective of Pele’s intensity. These clefts are the result of a constant but slow force. One fracture at a time, earth is moved forward to form new landscapes, erasing the old ones. Invisible by day, their presence and intensity is only revealed at night, cracking the dark world open, like lightning splitting the sky in pieces. By taking the lava out of its environmental context, the beauty and power is revealed without any interference or distraction. You can see the resulting photography by visiting my online portfolio.

The work was featured in DAILY MAILPETAPIXELELEPHANT JOURNALEXPOSURE GUIDETREEHUGGER, & TERRA MAR PROJECT.

Daniel Fox and Pilot Whales

While in Hawaii, I took the occasion to join some friends in Kona and go free diving with dolphins, pilot whales and oceanic whitetip sharks. Take a moment to watch the 3 videos BLUE MORNINGDOLPHIN MOMENT & SUNDAY PAUSE.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

I could never accomplish the work I do without the support and partnership of my sponsors. Each one of them, in their own way, enable me to reach into nature, explore our world and bring it to you visually and through the written word.

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My heartfelt thanks goes out to:
KOKATATWILDERNESS SYSTEMSDEUTERAQUALUNGMOUNTAIN KHAKISSIERRA DESIGNSSANDISKDELORMEVOLTAIC SYSTEMSDAHLGRENSPERRY TOP SIDEROPTIMUSKATADYNADVENTURE TECHNOLOGYKLEAN KANTEEN, AQUAPACSOGG-FORMLEUPOLD & GOLDEN VALLEY

AROUND THE CORNER

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EXPEDITIONS

THE SPIRIT OF KOOTZNOOWOO

On September 9th, I’ll partner up again with Nathaniel Stephens to traverse the Admiralty Island. We will start in Juneau with a crossing of the Gastineau Channel to nearby Douglas Island. We will then face the challenging crossing of Stephens Passage and its notorious rough water. Heading south through Seymour Canal our goal will be Pack Creek, a famous area with one of the highest concentrations of Brown Bears in the world. Following the Cross Admiralty Canoe Route, we will reach the eastern side of Admiralty and make our way toward the Tlingit village of Angoon, the island’s only permanent settlement. We will meet with clan elders and learn about the town’s fascinating history, including an 1882 bombardment by the US Navy after a whaling dispute.

One of our goals is to continue producing the type of educational short videos we broadcast on our last expedition. Being explorers, we have the unique opportunity to bring to the public our in-the-field discoveries. You can watch some of these videos here Sundew FlowersBear SignsLittle Brown BatsChicken of the Woods and Coralroot Orchid.

I also plan to use photography to capture the essence and spirit of the Brown Bear, revered by many and a sacred totem for countless indigenous cultures.

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PHOTOGRAPHY

FALL ON CHANNEL ISLANDS

In October, I plan to set up camp on the Island of Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands, off the California Coast and spend 3 to 4 weeks exploring the archipelago. Kayaking and hiking my way around, my goal will be to connect with the island’s rich cultural past and precious ecosystem. And just like the people of the Churmash Indian tribe did thousands of years ago, I will paddle my way from the mainland to the Channel Islands.

With the help of National Park Service and Nature Conservancy, I will look into what makes these islands so important for Conservation and so adored by the American public. Partly educative and partly artistic, the content created for this trip will for sure not disappoint!

SEASONS AT THE FARALLONES

In partnership with the NOAA Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, I am working a photography/book/exhibition project titled “Seasons at the Farallones”. Although close to mainland, the islands have rarely been photographed – quite exceptional for such a unique environment and its proximity.

The Farallons are a group of islands off the coast of San Francisco, California, just 30 miles (48 km) outside the Golden Gate. Even thought the first European to record the islands was the English privateer Sir Francis Drake, who landed on the islands on 24 July 1579, it was the Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno who first charted them in 1603 and therefore gave them their name “Farallones”, meaning “rocks out of the sea”

Besides being known for its Great White Sharks population, the islands are home to more than 250,000 seabirds, 5 species of seals and sea lions and are visited every year by several whales species, including gray whales, humpbacks, blue whales, and the powerful killer whale.

By staying on the islands for periods of 2 to 3 weeks in Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, the goal will be to accurately capture the distinct seasons of such treacherous and extreme environment and the wildlife it inhabits.

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APPEARANCES

JACKSON HOLE FILM FESTIVAL

Internationally recognized as the premier event of its genre, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, held from September 23 – 27, has invited me to attend and photograph their event. Similar to what I’ve previously created for the Express 27 Nationals and the 2013 Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, my goal is to capture the energy and content of this event so that it can be shared around the world.

If you happen to be there at the same time, please reach out to me so we can meet.

THE WILD IMAGE PROJECT ON FACEBOOK

The online world is in constant change and it is important to have a platform that appropriately communicates the intended message and reaches out to both current and new audiences. So to make it easier for you to follow my photography, expeditions and appearances, I’ve re-launched the Wild Image Project Facebook site. All my FACEBOOK postings and updates can now be found here. From this page, you’ll be able to easily connect with me across all my social media networks, e.g., PinterestTwitterInstagram.
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I’ll be closing down my current Facebook personal page so be sure to take a minute and visit the new page and follow me by clicking LIKE.

PURCHASING PHOTOGRAPHY or SIGNING UP FOR FUTURE EXPEDITIONS

If you are interested in purchasing Wild Image Project photography or signing up for future expeditions contact me via email at daniel – wildimageproject.com.